Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tobogganing in Ithaca, New York

This certainly looks like fun. There was no message written on the back of this card; they were probably too busy having fun at the toboggan slide. Toboggans were a traditional form of transport for the early Innu and Cree tribes of northern Canada.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Empire State Express Passing Through Syracuse

In 1891, the Empire State Express became the world's first high-speed passenger train, traveling from New York City to Buffalo in just under seven hours. Top speeds between 82 miles per hour and 112 miles per hour were recorded.  Eventually the train's western terminus was extended to Cleveland, Ohio.
It seems odd that a train celebrated for its great speeds would travel right through the middle of town with no safety barriers. Word to the wise: keep your dog on a leash.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Japanese Baseball- Shigeru Sugishita

Why would I have Japanese baseball postcards? It's only because my neighbor had a Japanese pen pal when he was a boy. Otherwise, these would be hard to come by.

Shigeru Sugishita was one of the premier pitchers in Japanese professional baseball in the 1950s. This picture is circa 1951, when he was pitching for the Dragons. He beat out Wally Yonamine for Central League MVP in 1954 (a very big deal!) and was presented with the Sawamura Award three times. Sugishita was inducted into to the Hall of Fame in 1958.

If you're interested in finding out more about Japanese baseball or Japanese baseball cards, this is a good source: Rob's Japanese Cards

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year

I'm posting this lovely card mostly because David over at the Postcard Gallery has posted a similar postcard and I thought it would be interesting to look at them both together.  His New Year's lady has the sense not to grab onto the wreath of holly, but there are other differences too.  See if you can find them.

Streetcar Sunday - Kharkiv, Ukraine

A pen pal from Kharkiv sent me this card in the 1980s. Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine, after Kiev. Kharkiv has a population of just over 1.5 million and an underground metro system with 28 stations and about 35 miles of track. Kharkiv's metro system includes buses, trolleybuses, subway, and streetcars. The streetcars have been in operation for over 100 years!

This is the twelfth week of Streetcar Sundays. Click here to view previous Streetcar Sundays.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crepe de Chine Teddy

TWO of these can be obtained for $1.00. Wow! How much for a dozen?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Howdy! Merry Christmas

Howdy? The word doesn't seem to fit with the style of the card or with Christmas. Anyway, I hope you're having a right howdy Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Bright and Happy Christmas

How very Christmassy it must be to live on Cranberry Lake.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Having the Time of My Life

I love the man's bathing suit and his carefully-combed hair, but I do think they need a chaperone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nashua, New Hampshire

Here's a classic linen postcard of Nashua, New Hampshire. Linen postcards were especially popular during the 30s and early 40s, and are easily identified by the high-rag card stock with the textured pattern that resembles linen. The paper allowed for the use of brighter inks, which is one of the great attractions of linen postcards.

Nashua currently has a population of about 87,000, which makes it the second largest city in the state (Manchester is bigger.) Nashua used to be dependent on the textile industry, but it has continued to prosper from economic growth in Boston and surrounding areas. Nashua has twice been named "Best Place to Live in America" by Money Magazine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Tribute to Our Favorite Mailman

I have never mentioned why I host this postcard blog. I love postcards and I've been collecting them for a long time, but this blog also helps to preserve and honor the memory of John Korinek, a man who delivered mail, collected all things beautiful, and was well loved by friends and family. He died on this day last year, and he is greatly missed. Many of the postcards I post were once his. He would be pleased to know that people are looking at them and enjoying them. I made the postcard below...just one, and sent it off to Kerry, the Postmaster in Cornelius, Oregon, who is doing a special Art of the Postcard exhibition at the Cornelius post office. John would have liked that a lot (except for having his picture on  a card!)

Whenever John called our house, he would always say, "This is John, the mailman." Sometimes we would remind him that he had retired several decades ago, but it didn't matter. Mailman had become part of his identity, for better or worse.

John had a studied appreciation for craftsmanship, beauty, and history. In the 1960s, when old buildings, including churches, were being demolished as part of urban renewal, John would do whatever he could to salvage the precious works of devoted craftsmen. When he asked the crew what they planned to do with the stained glass windows, more often than not the answer was, "If you can get them out before we start demolition in the morning, they're yours." Sometimes he would work through the night to salvage windows, as he did at the First Baptist Church of Binghamton (shown below) when it was demolished (postcard image courtesy of

John also believed that any job, no matter how small, deserved to be done well. We miss his warm heart, and we will forever appreciate his strong principles and sense of honor.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Caracas, Venezuela 1925

This is the 11th installment of Streetcar Sunday, and we're headed off to Caracas, Venezuela, the country's largest city and it capital. In 1900, the population of Caracas was only 100,000, but by 2008 it had grown to over 3 million.

Trams started service in Caracas in 1882 on 29.5 inch gauge tracks. Caracas, like many other places, started out with horse-drawn trams. What differentiates Caracas from other cities is that it didn't initiate the move to electrical trams by replacing the horse-drawn ones. Instead, it started by electrifying its steam railroads, and horse trams provided connections between the various railroad stations.

The first electric trams began service in 1906. In 1907, thirty additional electric trams were ordered from England. The cars were only 24 feet long and just over 5 feet wide; they had to be small to make the turns on the narrow streets of the old town. The car shown above was ordered from J.G. Brill Co. in Philadelphia in 1909, but it had the same dimensions as the earlier cars.

By the early 1920s, gasoline-powered buses arrived on the scene. Even so, additional trams continued to be purchased and tram service continued until 1947.

If you want to read more about the history of trams in Caracas and look at lots of wonderful historic pictures, check out Allen Morrison's website. For information on the current Caracas Metro system, click here. If you want to look at all of the previous posts for Streetcar Sunday, click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas from McAllen, Texas

The great thing about this personalized rubber stamp greeting is that it works year after year. For all I know, Ford and Jo are still using it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Xmas

This card was sent in 1912. I wonder if it wasn't originally intended as a New Year's card, because the lucky four-leaf clover, bags of money, and champagne seem better suited for good luck in the New Year than for Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Merry Christmas

This card was sent in 1908. The writing is faded, but I can see that it's from Grandma. The girls are carrying a giant cracker covered with forget-me-nots.

Not everybody knows what a cracker is. I brought some home and a family member was ready to open one up and eat it.  I explained that it has a little bit of gunpowder in it and "cracker" refers to the sound it makes and it's not  filled with crackers to eat. He found this very disturbing and said they should have warnings on the package so someone doesn't blow his lip off.

Visit the French Factrice today if you want to look at more festive holiday cards.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Draw that Bridge- The Golden Gate

In case you didn't tune in last week, that's when I posted the card of San Francisco's Golden Gate before the famous bridge was built.  I invited you to draw your own bridge, either a likeness of the one that was built or something different. It's no surprise that people are very busy this time of year, so I didn't expect a lot of results. In fact there were only two, but they're both fabulous! Thanks for your submissions (round of applause.)

Here's a view of the bridge and the one from last week without the bridge:

And here are the brilliant ideas that you submitted:

Eric was inspired by a newspaper headline: "Red Tape Holds Up Bridge." The headline referred to another bridge, but it fits nicely with this one. His Golden Gate Bridge looks very realistic and is constructed of red electrical tape.

Ferdinand was inspired by music; his span across the Golden Gate consists of part of the bridge from Prokofiev's Sonata #8.
Ferdinand also sent along a musical clip, played by Dror Biran. I'm including it because I think it's a piece of music that represents the bridge very well.

As long as we're looking for a musical representation of the bridge, I also like the idea of the Barcarolle from Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman to represent the bridge on a moonlit night with the fog rolling in. The duet makes me imagine of the two land masses on either side of the bay singing to each other.

This piece is performed by soprano Irina Iordachescu and mezzosoprano Cristina Iordachescu - two sisters, together with pianist Gonul Apdula.

Princess Anne

Today was supposed to be the day that I posted the follow-up to a previous post entitled Draw that Bridge.  I promised to post a card of the bridge that was actually built and invited you to submit your own vision of what that bridge would or could be. I have received one submission so far, so I am allowing one extra day just in case you want to submit something. Truth be told, I'm running a little behind anyway, so I was happy to put it off for a day.

Princess Anne thinks this is hilarious. This is a real photograph postcard of the very joyful princess. She was born in 1950, so the postcard is probably from about 1954. Princess Anne is currently tenth in line for the British throne. She is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Here's a link to the previous post so you can submit your bridge idea. Do it for Princess Anne.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel

At the turn of the century, there was an increased demand for rooms for foreign visitors to Japan. In order to meet that demand, a directive was issued to build the Imperial Hotel. Frank Lloyd Wright was hired for the project in 1916. He designed just about every aspect of the hotel, including doorknobs and carpets.

According to the architect who steals my covers every night, these are some of the significant aspects of the hotel:
  1. The job was an important one for Wright because he had no work at the time. He was still recovering from the murder of his mistress Mamah Borthwick-Cheney, who had been hacked to death with a hatchet along with her two children at Wright's house at Taliesin. The murder was committed by one of Wright's servants, who had just served them lunch moments before. After that, the servant also burned down Wright's precious Taliesin house. Frank Lloyd Wright was at his office in Chicago at the time. The scandal of the affair with Borthwick-Cheney and her subsequent murder diminished Wright's appeal to prospective clients.
  2.  The Imperial Hotel managed to withstand the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, which destroyed just about every other building in the vicinity.
  3. The hotel was demolished in 1967 because the property values were so high that a two-story building simply didn't make financial sense. The center part of the building was preserved and reconstructed at the Meiji Mura Museum, an outdoor architectural museum in Inuyama.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Binghamton, NY

Imagine having your visit to town announced in the paper!  When Marion Rowley's visit was announced in 1918,  Miss Patterson sprang into action:

Aug 29, 1918.
Read the notice in this morning's paper that you were visiting in Binghamton and wanted to ask you if a man by name Albert Lull is living in Edmonton and if he is town clerk? I knew him a few years ago.  I also read the death of your father awhile ago. I remember him when he was at Troy. And did not know until then where you were living. Thought of speaking to you over the phone call me up 3634-9 or come and make a call, as I would like to meet you.
Miss Patterson 22-Cary St.

I could be wrong, but Miss Patterson sounds like a nosy meddler to me, and she didn't even express any regrets about the death of Marion's father. I hope Miss Marion Rowley avoided her.

The first streetcars started service in Binghamton in 1868, with the first electric streetcar arriving on the scene in 1887.  As in many cities, several different independent companies originally operated streetcar service in Binghamton. In 1892, the nine (!) companies that operated streetcar service in Binghamton consolidated to form the Binghamton Railroad Company.  In 1893, they had gross receipts of $99,358 and operating expenses of $57,011.  By 1896, all of the streetcars had been converted to electricity and by 1932, all of the streetcars had been replaced by buses.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leather Postcard

Leather postcards were somewhat popular from about 1900-1910. This one was from 1907 and was sent in 1908.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heureux Noël

I love the old French tinted postcards. They are elegant, fanciful, and beautiful.

Passion Play - Oberammergau, Germany

This is an early real-photo postcard of a group of children in the Passion Play. Back in 1633, villagers in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau pledged to put on a passion play every ten years if they were delivered from war and the plague. The tradition has continued ever since and the actors are always local villagers, even though it has become a huge tourist attraction. About half of the villagers participate in one way or another in the production of the play, which follows Jesus from his arrival in Jerusalem to his death on the cross and his resurrection.

At some point, the timing of the play production changed, because they are no longer held in years that end with three. The last one was in 2000 and the next one will be in 2010 (May-October.) If you're interested in booking tickets or seeing a video of the 2000 performance, click here.  I didn't get far enough along on the link to see how much it costs, but it's probably a lot. As far as I can tell, you can't just book tickets; it looks like you have to book with a company and go with a group. In any case, Oberammergau is a beautiful place, just like the rest of Bavaria.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birthday Greetings

This lovely birthday card was sent in 1909. The message reads:
This is to wish you a happy birthday. We received your cards yesterday. I am going to write soon. Momma is at Prospect. We are all well. Hope you are well by this time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stockholm, Sweden

I have a friend who is in Sweden right now, because his sister is receiving a Nobel Prize. How exciting! To celebrate, I am posting this card of Stockholm, which appears to show policemen or soldiers in a horse-drawn carriage.

My friend reports that Stockholm is a beautiful city. I'm sure it looks much different than it did in this picture from 1906.

Birthday Greetings - Silk Embroidered Card

I'm only familiar with the French silk embroidered cards, but this one was made in the United States, presumably right around 1920. If you're interested in silk postcards, Bill from the U.K. has a great website.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guess Who Sent You This Fish Airplane

Back in the old days in France (up until 1564), the new year was celebrated on April first, based on the Julian calendar. That was before King Charles IX came along and decided that everybody should be following the Gregorian calendar, which starts the new year on the first day of January. Not everyone welcomed this change, or so the story goes, and some people continued to celebrate April 1 as the first day of the year. Allegedly, those people were mocked and referred to as April fools. Whatever the case, it became a tradition to do things such as pasting a fish on unsuspecting people's backs on April 1, and calling them a Poisson d'Avril or an April Fish. The symbol of the fish may also have been connected with Jesus Christ.

There is another theory that the traditions were inspired by the abundance of newly-hatched fish in French rivers in the Spring. These fish, who had not yet acquired their stream smarts, were easy to catch, and referred to as Poisson d'Avril. Because of the fish, it became customary to fool people on April first. It's still a tradition to give chocolate fish as a present and at one time it was also very popular to send, often anonymously, postcards featuring fish. Somewhere along the line, these cards also became romantic, with the fish symbolizing remembrance and secret feelings.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Portstewart, Ireland

Once again, it's streetcar Sunday, and I'm excited about today's picture of this tram in Portstewart, on the northern coast of Ireland.  You may be asking, what's the difference between a streetcar and a tram? People in the United States call it a streetcar and people in the U.K. call it a tram. That's pretty simple. They are the same, but then again not all streetcars are alike. Take this one for example, no wires are visible because it was steam powered. In fact, the Portstewart tram was the first steam tramway in Ireland. The fact that it's steam powered is one of the things I love about this particular picture, and the fact that each car is different.  I'm not sure why all those people are crowded on top of the third car and the second car is entirely empty. The last car looks as if it is used for luggage.

The Portstewart tram was a 3-foot guage tramway that connected the seaside town of Portstewart with the mainline railway, which ran from Belfast to the neighboring town of Portrush, but which by-passed Portstewart by a couple of miles. The tramway started service in 1882. The Portstewart tram closed down in 1926, unable to compete with bus service.

Here's a close-up:

During the era of steam trains, steam tram engines were governed by specific rules. For one thing, the steam could not be visible, so they had to use coke rather than coal as a fuel.  They were also required to conceal all machinery from view at all points above 4 inches from the rails, which is why this engine has such an odd profile. Finally, they also had to be quiet, and they couldn't exceed 8 miles per hour.  Most steam-powered trams were phased out in favor of electric trams in about 1900.

The picture above is not actually a postcard; it's from a little folder of real photo snapshots.  You would write the address on the outside of the packet and send the whole thing.

If you're interested in Irish steam trains, check out the website for the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.  There are also two restored cars from the Portstewart tramway available to view in two separate museums, the Streetlife Museum of Transport in Kingston upon Hull, England (admission is free!) and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Northern Ireland.

Come back next week for another Streetcar Sunday!


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