Sunday, February 28, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Today's Streetcar Sunday features Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster had streetcars at the turn of the century, but the last one ran in 1947. This card was sent in 1907.

There is currently an effort underway to reintroduce streetcars to Lancaster with a 2.6-mile streetcar loop. As in many areas, the move to reintroduce streetcars has both strong proponents and opponents. Proponents argue for economic benefits and reduction in traffic congestion, while opponents generally argue against high cost and lack of efficiency.

There is truth to both arguments. Portland, Oregon spent  $56.9 million on the first 2.4 mile section of its streetcar system. While that seems like a lot of money, the Portland Office of Transportation considered the project a huge success. Not only did ridership far exceed the projected numbers, but the streetcar also attracted considerable development and investment ($2.28 billion!) in the area within two blocks of the streetcar alignment.

Here are a few more cards showing streetcars in Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Longfellow - Portland, Maine

What is wrong with me? I keep procrastinating and don't get the news of these special deals to you in time. Darn, this one was half-off admission too! Maybe if you're really nice they'll give you the discount anyway? Oops, maybe not; the house isn't there anymore. What you will find in its place is a Marriott Residence Inn. Don't blame Marriott though; before they built the hotel it was a parking lot.
Longfellow was born here on February 27, 1807. Later, his family moved to another house nearby (the Wadsworth-Longfellow House), which you can still visit.  You can also visit the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1914, Longfellow's birthplace was dedicated as a permanent memorial. The International Longfellow Society, with Woodrow Wilson as its honorary president, took charge of the house and solicited donations to cover the $20,000 needed to pay the first and second mortgages and pay off outstanding bills for restoration work. An article in the New York Times on February 27, 1916 discussed the importance of the house and urged people to make donations to maintain it. Supporters sent donations from all over Europe and from as far away as Japan.

The effort was successful and the house operated as a museum for several decades before it fell into disrepair. In the early 1950s, a man from Alaska mounted an aggressive fund-raising campaign for the museum through The International Longfellow Society. Unfortunately, it seems that he was using the collected money for personal use instead. To make matters worse, his fund-raising efforts were in direct competition with the legitimate efforts of the other Longfellow House.

After the house was demolished in 1955, the lot remained vacant for a long time. In the 1990s workers preparing the site for reconstruction unearthed the plaque for the stone marker that had been erected at the site in 1956. The plaque had been missing for several years and presumed stolen. Instead, it was just buried in the dirt. I came upon this photo taken by photojournalist, John Alphonse, on his website Reality Times. He took the picture shortly after the plaque was unearthed and set back in its stone marker. John graciously allowed me to use the photo for this post.

To celebrate Longfellow's birthday today, here is one of his poems:

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Marseille, France

The message reads:
Aug 4/21
I'm sure you would just love this flower market. Saw beautiful forget me nots just a few moments ago.
yours Bergil (?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

USS Dynamite Gunboat Vesuvius

The USS dynamite gunboat Vesuvius was used during the Spanish-American War in 1898 off Santiago de Cuba. It was the only time a dynamite gun was used on a boat (probably because they weren't very accurate.) On June 28, 1898, the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah reported that, "The dynamite gunboat Vesuvius fired three shells last night. They fell in the vicinity of Morro castle and the eastern batteries."

The Spanish-American War was fought between the U.S. and Spain over issues of the liberation of Cuba. Several events led up to to the declaration of war:
  1. A riot by Spanish loyalists in Cuba in January, 1898, which led to the presence of American Marine Forces in Havana.
  2. The sinking of the USS Maine, which may have been caused by an internal coal combustion, but was suspected of being an explosion from a mine.
  3. American anger fueled by news stories (particularly in Hearst newspapers) about the events surrounding the USS Maine.

President Grover Cleveland referred to the USS Vesuvius and other ships in his fifth State of the Union address in 1893 (from Wikisource):

Progress in the construction of new vessels has not been as rapid as was anticipated. There have been delays in the completion of unarmored vessels, but for the most part they have been such as are constantly occurring even in countries having the largest experience in naval shipbuilding. The most serious delays, however, have been in the work upon armored ships. The trouble has been the failure of contractors to deliver armor as agreed. The difficulties seem now, however, to have been all overcome, and armor is being delivered with satisfactory promptness. As a result of the experience acquired by shipbuilders and designers and material men, it is believed that the dates when vessels will be completed can now be estimated with reasonable accuracy. Great guns, rapid-fire guns, torpedoes, and powder are being promptly supplied.

The following vessels of the new Navy have been completed and are now ready for service: The double-turreted coast-defense monitor Miantonomoh, the double-turreted coast-defense monitor Monterey, the armored cruiser New York, the protected cruisers Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, San Francisco, Charleston, Atlanta, and Boston, the cruiser Detroit, the gunboats Yorktown, Concord, Bennington, Machias, Castine, and Petrel, the dispatch vessel Dolphin, the practice vessel Bancroft, and the dynamite gunboat Vesuvius. Of these the Bancroft, Machias, Detroit, and Castine have been placed in commission during the current calendar year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heidelberg Motel and Heidelberg, Germany

Here's the Heidelberg Motel in Waldorf, Maryland:
And here's Heidelberg, Germany. Do you see the resemblance?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Card to Grandma is Returned

I think the mailman probably made every effort to deliver this. Unfortunately, the sender wrote the number 1 in the German style, which looks more like our 7.  So, the postman tried to deliver the card to 276 Avenida Majorca, instead of 216. Sadly, Grandma's card was returned and she never got to see the picture her granddaughter drew of herself wearing the new outfit she had sent her.

Monday, February 22, 2010

George Washington

George Washington, the first president of the United States, was born on this date in 1732. When Washington died in 1799, Henry Lee delivered the funeral oration, saying that of all Americans, Washington was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

The message on the card says:
Dear cousin
Arrived home + heard that Eugene Lynch (?) housekeeper was dead + buried. maybe you have heard of it.  Mary

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Albany, New York

Streetcar service began in New York's capital city in 1863.  Albany had an extensive streetcar system, which is evident even in the picture above. As in a number of other cities, there were ongoing labor issues. These issues resulted in a violent streetcar workers strike in 1921, and the National Guard had to be called in to keep the peace.
Albany's last streetcar ran in 1946.
Here you can see a later view, with the streetcar tracks still visible, but the streetcars themselves gone and replaced by buses.

If anybody else has any additional information on the history of the Albany streetcars, please feel free to post a comment.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Predecessors of the Olson Twins

People suspected that they were smoking behind the barn, but the truth was much worse...

Friday, February 19, 2010


This embellished photo postcard not only has glitter, it also has a strange blue metallic sheen to it around the ivy leaves.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Captured by the Dude

I thought I'd segue from one dude to another. Yesterday I mentioned The Dude from the movie, The Big Lebowski. Today it's a dude of a different feather and a different century. The card dates from around 1880 and is a trade card rather than a postcard. I don't know why the dude is pictured as an ostrich. If you know, please enlighten me.

There are a number of advertising cards featuring the dude; they were not exclusive to T.W. Perry's. Here are a few more:

And this one, which is virtually the same as the first:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Japanese Baseball - Kaoru Betto

Here's another Japanese baseball postcard from around 1950.  Kaoru Betto was born on August 23, 1920 and graduated from Keio University. He served in World War II and then worked at a couple of other jobs before becoming a professional baseball player at 28. Betto played for the Osaka Tigers for two years (1948 and '49) and then for the Mainichi Orions for seven years. He won the Nippon Most Valuable Player Award and led the Mainichi Orions to the first Japanese Series Championship. Along the way, he married a beauty queen. Betto retired as an active player in 1957, although he continued to manage teams after that. He retired from baseball all together in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. Betto died of heart failure in 1999.

Kaoru Betto achieved secondary fame more recently, because "The Dude" in the movie the Big Lebowski wore a t-shirt bearing his likeness. The t-shirt, along with the movie, achieved cult status. I need to watch the movie again to figure out why. Actually, Jeff Bridges (the Dude) also wore this t-shirt in an earlier movie, Fisher King.

If you want to find out more about Japanese baseball, visit Rob's Japanese Cards or Japanese Baseball Cards, which has lots of links to other Japanese baseball sites. You may also want to look at a previous post on Shigeru Sugishita.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Miniature Coco Chanel

This girl is not Coco Chanel, but she resembles a miniature version of the premier fashion designer, and seems to embody one of Chanel's famous quotes: Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.
Her portrait was taken at Ateliers Jerome and made into a postcard.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Czech Postcards

These two beautiful Czech cards are from the 1920s, so although it may look like the girl in the first one is talking on her cell phone, I assure you she is not. I have no idea what the captions say, so once again I humbly ask for assistance from any Czech speakers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - The Romance of the Streetcar

Streetcars have a certain aura of romance that buses can never match. For some people it's a sentimental longing for the old-fashioned, but there is something inherently romantic about streetcars too. In the old days, streetcars were often just as busy on weekends as during the week, transporting people to amusement parks and beaches. Some of the older cars were open double-deckers, offering fresh air and a great view of the passing scenery. You can bet that lots of people have met and fallen in love on streetcars everywhere. Most of these stories don't make the papers, but some do (and often involve the conductors!):

In September, 1870, the Chicago Times reported that a young lady on the West side had fallen in love with a streetcar conductor. Her parents did not approve and locked her in her room, where she could only weep and watch the streetcar from her window. It seems that her parents particularly objected to her interest in a conductor of a horse-drawn streetcar and they would have approved had it only been a  a steam-powered streetcar. The newspaper reported that "they will not sanction her union with a conductor of a vehicle propelled by quadrupedal power."

In November 1905, the New York Times reported that Lucilla Smith, an heiress to the Smith Paper Company, had fallen in love with a former streetcar conductor and married him, much to her family's dismay.  After graduating from Wellesley and returning home to Pittsfield, Massachusetts from a "finishing tour" of Europe, Miss Smith had met the streetcar conductor and immediately fallen in love. The newspaper reported that, "the girl was often seen taking long rides through the hills on Conductor Dickie's car." At least they waited until he was promoted to a clerk position to get married.

On October 9, 1949, in an article entitled "Romance Fades - Court Hears Complaints About Ding Dong Daddy", the Reading-Eagle reported that in San Francisco, the Romeo of the "D" car line married some 14 wives without divorcing the previous ones. On September 16 of the previous year, the "tubby little Romeo", a former streetcar conductor, married an Oakland chambermaid. After a year, the chambermaid took him to court, saying that the once "alltogether too amorous" man had become grumpy and irritable and was accepting too many drinks at the Oakland waffle shop. He blamed his behavior on his wife's visit to the dentist and her resulting poor health, saying, "I guess her gums are hurting." He was sent to San Quentin, not for grumpiness and irritability, but for polygamy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bad angels, at it again!

Once again, cute little cherubs committing dastardly deeds. I only have two of these cards, but perhaps there was a whole series.  In this one they're ironing the heart; in the previous one they had a vise or a drill. Perhaps other ones featured saws, hammers, and mallets. Bad cherubs, and yet they look so pleased with themselves.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln and Impersonators

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky on this day 201 years ago.  Now, 145 years after Lincoln's death, there are over 300 people in the United States who earn a living as Lincoln impersonators. Really! I hope this also means that they will all be eating birthday cake, because I love the idea of 300 Lincolns blowing out candles today.

If you want to know more about Lincoln and his impersonators (and you know you do!), you can learn all about them in an upcoming documentary entitled Life as Lincoln. The documentary looks at three of the impersonators or presenters, as they prefer to be called, and explores their efforts to introduce people to the principles that Lincoln cherished. All silliness about birthday cakes aside, this is likely to be a very interesting documentary and a reminder of what Lincoln means to all of  us. The documentary premieres today in Chicago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ouch, my heart!

Those little angels look so sweet, but then they turn around and do something like this.
If you enjoy valentines, you should take a look at Tracy's Toys. She has some of the most unusual valentines I've ever seen, including one with a Necco-wafer head and one with a bone-button face, reminiscent of a character from A Nightmare Before Christmas.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whatever Happened to Hazel Vera Holbrook

This card has always given me such a laugh because of the message:
Dear Brother -  Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many more to come. Your sister (Hazel Vera)
(Wish I could see you just one minute. Maybe I wouldn't blister you.)

On a lark, I decided to search the name of Rexford E. Holbrook. I don't do this very often, because before you know it you're researching other people's genealogy and there's no end.  Interestingly enough, I found Hazel Vera before I found Rexford. Hazel was born in June, 1901, so she was 14 when she wrote this to her 7 year-old brother.  But what's so very tragic is that Hazel Vera died on September 28, 1915, only a month after writing this. I have no idea what happened, but I'm glad that Hazel's memory lives on through this card.

Rexford lived longer. I don't know when he died, but he did get married. He and Hazel are both buried in the North Volney Cemetery in Oswego County, New York. Here's the information posted on rootsweb:

1901   1915
Born:  June 3, 1901  Palermo, NY
Died:  September 28, 1915
Father:  Ephraim L. Holbrook
Mother:  Bertha Curtis
(Vital Records Fulton)

Update: For the sad details of what happened to Hazel Vera, see Chris' comment below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Venice, California

I think the spectators must be waiting for someone to climb to the platform and dive off? Venice, California is still a spectacle, though of a different kind.

The message on this card to Mrs. Noah Webster, sent in 1906, reads:
Ocean Park, Cal July 2
Dear Friend-
Are you still in the world of the living? And are you still willing to have a visit from me. I may come your way pretty soon now. Can I hear from you again?

Don't get all excited; the recipient of the card is not the wife of the Noah Webster of Webster's Dictionary, unless she was somehow able to outlive him by more than 60 years. However, it is conceivable that this Noah Webster was a descendant of the earlier one.

If you are confused by the differences between British and American spelling, you can blame the earlier Noah Webster.  He thought it would be a good idea to simplify spelling and, among other things, take the "u" out of colour and humour.  Although these spelling changes stayed with us, his suggested spelling for tongue (tung) did not.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rouen, France

Three lovely views of a beautiful city.
Rouen is the capital of Upper Normandy and has a population of about 110,000. These pictures date from around 1905, long before the city was heavily damaged at the end of World War II, and long after Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen (May 30, 1431.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Tacoma, WA

The message on this card reads:
7/14/10     Tacoma, WA
Just looking for a better position as I quit at Seattle. This is a slow town. I came through Puyalop where Marjory was, it is a small place. your Father

Tacoma's streetcars were a success from the very beginning, with the first horse-drawn streetcars in 1888. The first electric streetcars were introduced in 1890. By 1912, the city had 30 streetcar lines (mostly electric) and an interurban line to Seattle.  The system flourished for a long time, until like so many others, it lost out to competition from cars and buses. The end of Tacoma's streetcar service was celebrated with a parade down Broadway in 1938. At the time, the leftover streetcars were considered worthless because no one wanted them. A Tacoma newspaper article suggested that people could purchase them for $40 for hamburger stands or beach houses.

Despite its success over the years, there was also one notable streetcar tragedy in Tacoma. On July 4, 1900, a streetcar was overcrowded with passengers going to attend 4th of July festivities downtown. They were standing on the running boards, both front and rear platforms, and there was even a young boy riding on the front on the cowcatcher! It was later determined that the motorman was probably going too fast and had the brakes set too hard, which caused the car to jump the tracks on a curve and fall 100 feet down a ravine. Forty-three passengers died in that accident.

Tacoma now has a 1.6 mile light-rail line that connects the theater district and downtown with the Tacoma Dome and rail connections to Seattle.  There is also a group called Tacoma Streetcar, that is working to restore the old streetcar lines in Tacoma.

The writer of the card above describes Tacoma as a slow town, but there's actually a fair amount going on there now and it's a fun place to visit. Dale Chihuly, the well-known glass artist, is from Tacoma, so you will see lots of his work here, particularly at the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass.  The Washington State History Museum has amazing  exhibits, including old American Indian photographs and artwork. Many people also rate Point Defiance Park, with its zoo, aquarium, as a top attraction.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Flood in Grafton, Illinois

Grafton is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. I wanted to get an idea of the year these postcards were printed. Good luck! When I searched Google for "flood in Grafton", I got all sorts of information on the Great Flood of 1993, and the one in 1995. I also found information on the big flood in 2008. A little more delving and I found there was also a great flood of 1844, after which many people left for good. I guess the waters recede and then we forget it ever happened and rebuild. In fact, it looks like flood levels exceeding 27 feet occur about every three years in Grafton. You'd think it would be hard to forget...and hard to rebuild.

After the flood of 1993, the federal government (with a 25% match by the State of Illinois) offered a buyout program for residents in the flood area as part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The offer was accepted by 120 residents and the project cost $110 million.
Here's another card from whichever flood this was (1930?) it's a grainy picture, but I think I see a couple of chickens.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adderley Street - Cape Town, South Africa

This postcard of Cape Town, South Africa dates from around 1910.  Adderley Street is still Cape Town's main street, with banks, business centers, the American Embassy, and a convention center at the end of the street. Although some old buildings remain, you wouldn't recognize the street from this picture. However, the flower market, shown below, continues to operate in the same location. Nice double-decker trolley.
Adderley Street was named after Sir Charles Adderley in 1850 because of his success in preventing the British government from establishing a convict colony at Cape Town. The ship full of convicts was instead sent to Tasmania. In recent years, there has been a move to change the name of Adderley Street to Mandela Street, but nothing has come of it so far.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Fish!

It's been almost a week since I posted the last April Fish postcard. You have been deprived too long. This cannot continue.

So here's your fish; the message says "eat heartily." For more information on the origin of the April Fish, take a look at the earlier post.


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