Monday, November 30, 2009

Ladysmith, South Africa

What makes this card special is that it shows recent damage to the City Hall in Ladysmith, South Africa from the Boer war.  The City Hall looks very much the same today, although the damage to the clock tower has long since been repaired. The cannons, Castor and Pollux, are still there though, the big difference being that when this picture was taken the cannons had been recently used.

Ladysmith was originally founded by Boer settlers in the mid 1800s, but taken over by the British just a few years later. The Boers, or Afrikaners, were European settlers (generally Dutch, and some German, but also including French Huguenots and other nationalities who adopted the Dutch language.) The Dutch settlers originally came to South Africa in the 1600s to supply the Dutch East India Co. with supplies when their boats came ashore. At the time, they had no intention of staying permanently. Later, they were joined by the French Huguenots, who were fleeing religious persecution. As time passed, they began to identify themselves with their new country and referred to themselves as Afrikaner. Although the Boers had been in South Africa since 1652, Great Britain assumed power over South Africa in 1795. Diamonds were discovered in 1867, causing a large number of people to move to South Africa from Britain and add to the tensions between British and Boers.

Ladysmith came under siege by the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. The siege lasted four months and resulted in severe food and water shortages and disease for the inhabitants and soldiers. On February 28, 1900, the British troops broke through to Ladysmith and the siege ended.  This card clearly shows the damage to the clock tower caused by a Boer shell.

An interesting Note: The young Mahatma (then Mohandas) Ghandi served as a stretcher bearer during the aftermath of the siege.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Charlotte, North Carolina

Today's streetcar postcard is courtesy of Robert Reeves, host of Live From The Surface of the Moon.
It's a great shot of a Southern Public Utilities streetcar with a conductor ready to make change if you don't happen to have the exact fare.

Charlotte's first streetcars began service in 1887 and were drawn by horses. By 1891, the streetcars had been converted to electric. The first streetcar line transported crowds of Charlotte residents to Latta Park, a 90-acre amusement center. The streetcar also enabled people who worked in Charlotte to live in Dilworth. Workers who moved farther out then began to rely on the streetcar as their primary means of transportation. When streetcar workers went on strike in 1919, it created a huge disruption for commuters, but also grew into one of Charlotte's most violent labor disputes, requiring mobilization of the National Guard.

The strike began on August 10, 1919, when motormen and conductors walked off the job, demanding higher wages and recognition of unions. Southern Public Utilities attempted to run streetcar service with non-union replacements during the strike, however the workers and streetcars were attacked by rock-throwing strikers. Strike breakers had to be armed for their own protection.

On August 25, a crowd of 2,000 gathered in front of the Streetcar Barn, confronting 50 armed strikebreakers and about 30 police officers. After the first shot was fired, police opened fire, killing five people and wounding a dozen more. In the following days, six companies of the National Guard arrived to restore order. Citizen volunteers were also sworn in to patrol the streets and preserve the peace. The strike ended on September 5, when the two sides agreed on a contract.

The last owner of the railroad was Duke Power, which also began introducing gasoline-powered buses in 1934. Some of the original bus service consisted of feeder lines to the streetcar, but later bus service actually replaced streetcar lines. In 1937, Duke Power applied to the North Carolina Utilities Commission to abandon the street railway system and replace it with bus service. City officials viewed the change as progressive move towards modernization. Charlotte's streetcar service ceased operation in 1938

In 2003, the Charlotte Area Transit System or CATS added light rail service in Charlotte.

A non-profit organization, Charlotte Trolley, has restored some of the old trolley cars and provides weekend rides on historic Car 85. For more information on the history of the streetcar in Charlotte, visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, which is where I found most of this information for this post. also has interesting information on North Carolina interurbans and streetcar railroads.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Whole Dam Family

This card was sent in 1905.  Any resemblance to people you know is entirely coincidental.

Several versions of this card were printed and were used to advertise a 1905 short silent movie, called the Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog. There does not appear to be a cat in the movie. You can watch a minute and a half of it on Youtube. I think there must have been more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fishing for ? in Florida

This was in the 20-cent box at a local postcard sale.  Both the card and the message are amusing. I'm not going to comment on the message, but I did want to mention that this is another card that reached its destination with minimal address information.

Uncle Sam Talks Turkey

Uncle Sam is saying, "O.K., it's the day after Thanksgiving, now give it back." Well, at least it looks that way.

This card was sent in 1909. As best as I can tell, the message reads:
Hello Ed
Are you a liveing in the mountains
This nice weather.
Looked for you up this fall are you not a coming up.
This turkey is for your dinner.
from Mrs. H

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, just as Mr. Bumpus did when he sent this beautiful card to his daughter in 1911.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Lovely Josephine

This card was sent to Josephine from Czechoslovakia. Josephine looked very much like the child on the right when she was young, but I don't suppose this is actually a picture of her. My Slovak language skills are sadly lacking, but should a Slovak wander by, a translation would be greatly appreciated.

I know that the card was received, but I don't know if it was actually mailed like this or not. The stamp has been removed and there is no visible cancellation. It may have been included in a package instead. I'm curious, because I notice that the state is missing from the address. Maybe it didn't matter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kirkstone Pass, England

This postcard may not have color, but it definitely has movement. Be sure to click on it to get a closer look. It shows horse-drawn carriages descending from Kirkstone Pass in the English Lake District in the county of Cumbria. A motorcar has pulled off to the side, perhaps to get out of the way of the fast-moving carriages. The Kirkstone Inn (not visible here) stands near the summit of the pass and has been there since the 16th century. You can still rent a room here or a bunk in the dormitory and get some refreshment in the bar.

You probably won't be able to ride a horse-drawn carriage down from the Pass anymore, but many cyclists and runners enjoy the challenge both uphill and down. The ride is a steep one; in places the gradient is 25%! Although the ride down by carriage was probably fun and exciting, the ride up was known as the struggle, because horses were unable to pull the weight of the carriage with passengers, so people had to get out and walk to the top. The ride down was winding, dusty, and bumpy, and passengers were packed in tightly. The first carriage is carrying 19 passengers along with the driver. It looks as if it would have been easy to fall out.

Here's another view:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hello! Central! Give Me 999

This amusing postcard is from around 1905.  You can tell it's earlier than 1907, because it has an undivided back, which only allows for the address on the backside. If people wanted to write messages on postcards at that time, they had to write on the picture side or not write one at all. So, you might receive a mysterious postcard with no message and be left wondering who sent it and what they intended. In 1907, U.S.  postcards were made with a divided back with space for both the address and a message. That's when the fun really started.

At the time of this postcard, there were just over three million telephones in the United States, all connected by manual telephone exchanges. (Note: Today there are over 100 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S.) Manual exchange meant that every call you made went through an operator; there were no numbers to dial yourself. If the number you were calling was in the same exchange, the operator would simply connect the lines on the switchboard. If it was in another exchange, she would have to connect with the operator at that exchange and ask her to connect the call. Long distance calls were pricey though, so you didn't want to make very many of them or stay on the line too long.  I don't know the significance of the 999 number; it's the emergency number in a lot of countries, but not in the U.S.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Tokyo, Japan

This postcard from the 1940s shows Ginza Street, Tokyo's main thoroughfare and shopping street.  The building with the curved facade (the Wako Store) is still there and is considered an important symbol of Ginza. It was built by Hattori Kinzo, the founder of a clock company later known as Seiko. In general, though, the street looks very different today. It's full of glitzy high-rise buildings and stores such as Tiffany, Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, Chanel, and Burberry.

Horse-drawn streetcars first started service in Tokyo in 1882. By 1906, tram service had been greatly expanded and was operating on electricity, with an average daily ridership of over 350,000. By 1927, Tokyo was also operating subway service, however streetcars or trams remained the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo until the 1960s, with annual ridership peaking at over 500 million. During the 60s, Tokyo renewed emphasis on expanding the subway system. Finally, in 1967, the tramway on Ginza Street was abolished.

The Toden Arakawa Line, a small segment of the Tokyo tramway system remains. It is only 12.2 km long and operates in the older section of northern and eastern Tokyo.  It allows for much better views than the subway and at a slower speed. So, if you're in Tokyo, you may want to seek it out and take a sentimental journey.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fitzsimmons General Hospital

Oh, excuse me, I'm quite sure I requested a private room!
Here's an old postcard  from the Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. This is a place where you could come to get over your illness and, at the same time, any personal privacy issues (no extra charge.) At least you won't be lonely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Looking for a Sweetheart

The message reads:
How would you like to meet John's wife?
John's Wife

John's wife sent this to Celia Finnegan, but didn't get the right address. It seems Miss Finnegan was familiar with John, but not with his wife, or maybe even the fact that he had a wife. I don't know if Celia got the hint, but John's wife certainly seems to have a sense of humor, especially considering the postcard she chose.

Save the French Orphans

This card would serve to acknowledge a contribution made to help support French war orphans of WWI.  The back of the card reads:
" Suffer the little children to come unto Me. "

Dear ______
We have received your contribution, and we are pleased to welcome you as a member _________ of the Nest, for the year 191_.
With thanks,
The Secretary

Before World War I, Liefra (an abbreviation for Liberté-Égalité-Fraternité) was an Utopian, socialist, agricultural community. It's hard to know how long it would have persisted without the advent of WWI. The lack of capital and male farmers departing for the front ensured its demise. After the war, the founder, Paul Passy, transformed it into a refuge for orphaned and abandoned children with the help of the Quakers. At that time it was called le Nid de Liefra, or the Nest of Liefra.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Johannesburg, South Africa

This card shows a view of Pritchard Street in Johannesburg, South Africa, circa 1910. Note the street light in the middle of the road. Johannesburg was a dusty settlement until gold was discovered there in 1886, setting off a massive gold rush and fueling tensions over land ownership between the existing Boer government in Pretoria and the British.  By the turn of the century, Johannesburg had a population of 100,000. It is now one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world, with a population of over 7 million.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Red Cross Shoes -Elmira, New York

Run on down to Sheehan Dean Co. in Elmira, NY and buy a pair of these lovely shoes for only $6.50. They may be out of stock though. And you will need to do some time traveling, because they closed in 1936. Both the Sheehan and Dean families included  distinguished citizens of Elmira. Daniel Sheehan served as Elmira's police commissioner, postmaster and mayor. Elmer Dean, who died in 1940, was a trustee of Elmira College. Sheehan Dean Co. was a dry goods store,  also selling furniture and clothing in addition to shoes.

At one point, Red Cross shoes were the most popular shoe in the U.S. and the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Red Cross shoes had no connection with the American National Red Cross though, and it's no surprise that the Red Cross objected to having its name used in a commercial manner. The House Foreign Affairs Commission even proposed a ban on the brand name in 1942, but the company voluntarily suspended use of the name before the ban could be enacted. However, they resumed use of the name years later, with the provision that they would publicly disclaim any association with the American National Red Cross. You can still buy Red Cross shoes today, but the styles are limited to nurse's shoes and a few loafer styles, and they cost more than $6.50.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Contadina Senese

A Contadina is the Italian term for a peasant woman or a woman of the fields. This lovely Contadina is from Tuscany.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Portland, Oregon

It's Streetcar Sunday, so here's another postcard featuring a streetcar, trolley or tram.
Streetcars were a very important mode of transportation in Portland at the turn of the century. This card shows Third Street in Portland with streetcars, buggies, and even a bicycle. I don't see any cars. The streetcar tracks were paved over  in later years, but the streetcar is regaining its popularity in Portland. New tracks are being laid to create an east-side streetcar loop that connects with the west-side streetcar and buses, light rail, and other transportation modes.
Click here for an earlier post that also shows a streetcar in Portland.
Click here for more information on the current Portland Streetcar and its history.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicago's Water Street

Water Street was the produce hub of Chicago. In the 1800s, it was the main business street, running parallel to the Chicago River. In earlier years, it was the site of an Indian trading post. However in 1917, Charles Wacker, Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission, proposed changing Water Street into a "fine highway of tremendous economic value to the City of Chicago." South Water and River Streets would be double-decker streets from Michigan Avenue to Market Street, with the upper level reserved for light traffic. The Plan called for the market to be moved to another location outside the loop to reduce loop traffic by 13,814 vehicle trips per day. (Source: Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year-Book, 1918.)

Water Street is now known as Wacker Drive (fancy that!) The market was moved to an 8-block area bounded by Racine Avenue, Morgan Street, 14th Street and Baltimore and Ohio. In 2003, the "new market" was turned into apartments, known as the University Commons.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gary's Duck Inn

I love how this Jumbo Shrimp platter seems to be coming in for a landing on the roof of Gary's Duck Inn. Sadly, the Jumbo Shrimp Platter is gone forever, since Gary's Duck Inn closed in 1994. Gary's first opened in Orlando, Florida in 1945 and was considered a landmark by many, attracting celebrities such as Dolly Parton and Bob Hope. During the 1970s and 80s, Gary's Duck Inn served an estimated 25,000 pounds of shrimp annually.

New Eagle Hotel, New Berlin NY

The hotel is called the New Eagle Hotel, because it replaced the old Eagle Hotel, which burned down in 1899. The new Hotel was built in 1900 by Charles Banks, a republican who represented Chenango County in the NY Assembly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Postcard

The picture on this card was originally an advertisement for Gruen watches.  Gruen then made a postcard out of it, which served as both a patriotic message and an advertisement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gruss aus den Bergen

Greetings from the mountains near Interlaken, Switzerland. This card was written in 1896, but it was never sent.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Typhoid Fever in Altoona

Besse sent this card of the Altoona Hospital and Nurses' Home in 1908.
On the front she writes:
Sept. 6. 08
Hello Cousin Kathryn and Jim. We got home O.K. and had a nice time. Would enjoy some more ice cream.
On the back, she continues:
We are having a very bad epidemic of typhoid fever, about 8 cases died since we are home, there are more than a hundred cases now. We are all much alarmed.
The outbreak of typhoid fever she described was written up in the Pennsylvania Medical Journal in 1917. It turns out that a local dairyman was a carrier and the disease was being spread to people who drank milk from his dairy. The dairyman eventually gave up the dairy business and went into railroad work.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Streetcar Sunday - Elmira, NY

It's Streetcar Sunday, so here's another postcard featuring a tram or streetcar. It seems like just about every town had one. Some still exist or have been brought back, but most have been gone for decades.

Elmira is located in upstate New York near the Pennsylvania border. Mark Twain met and married his wife here, and they continued to spend summers in Elmira for more than twenty years. They are also both buried here.

The city currently has a population of about 30,000, although it was as high as 50,000 at its peak. Elmira served as a vital transportation hub, connecting Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City via railroad and canal systems. Elmira's streetcar system was discontinued in 1939.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cafe 16 - Murdo, SD

Don't you just love what they've done with the landscaping?
Apparently this restaurant was good enough that the three people who went there one year came back with five additional people. Must be some awesome meatloaf!
The message reads:
Have heard from Dave - Mon. noon
Dear Mother D-
Here all 8 of us are at the same restaurant the 3 of us ate at last fall. It's lovely weather-just came through a shower-more on the way.
Attended church in ___ yesterday a.m. (left r.v. at 6);
(can't decipher rest)
Love- all of us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

San Francisco Cliff House Burns

The first Cliff House was built in 1863 and burned down in 1894. It was replaced by the much grander Victorian Cliff House shown here. The Victorian Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake, but burned down in 1907. The current Cliff House more closely resembles the original simple building than the grand one shown on this postcard.

The message on this card reads:
San Francisco Sept. 26, 1911
Dear Irene. I didn't write for a long time so I thought I would write. How do you like your new shoes. Julia Barr had a party and I wish my little darling was there. I want you to get a fat girl. Drink lots of milk. Grandma wants to know how her little lovie dear is. Aunt May xxxxx

Here's a postcard showing the Cliff House as it was rebuilt in 1909:

Click here to visit the Cliff House website, which has a more detailed history and lots of pictures.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

San Francisco Cliff House

This card of San Francisco's Cliff House restaurant was sent in 1910. Unfortunately, the writing is so faint that I can't make it out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BPOE Elks Convention 1907

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (B.P.O.E.) held a huge convention in Philadelphia in 1907.  They held a convention every year, but this one seems to have been particularly important for some reason, or at least it seems to have produced more postcards than the rest of them (and that's the most important measure by my standards.) The Elks are one of the leading fraternal (more on that later) orders in the United States, with approximately one million members.

Although the Elks started out as a social club with members originating primarily from theatrical performing troupes, they widened their scope fairly early on to embrace charitable and service work. Today they promote patriotism and provide scholarships, drug education and other youth and community services.

So, now back to the fraternal aspect...
Fraternal order suggests that the organization is composed of men or brothers, and so it was. However, early on, the wives of Elks members formed their own auxiliary groups and performed charitable and patriotic work as the Benevolent, Patriotic Order of the Does. There is no official record of the Does, because they were not officially recognized. In fact, it was at the 1907 convention, that the Elks proclaimed that they would not recognize any auxiliary groups. In the 1970s, the Elks opened their membership to African Americans, but women were still excluded. In the 1990s, the Elks Club was mandated to accept women as members, based on the Oregon Public Accommodations Act. Atheists are now the only ones denied membership in the Elks.


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