Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Last Century at Marienbad

Marienbad was a popular spa resort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The name of Marienbad was bestowed in 1808, and it became a destination by 1818.  Eventually, it became a posh resort, attracting the likes of King Edward, Goethe, Mahler, Rudyard Kipling,  Kaiser Franz Josef I, Kafka, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Wagner, Chopin, Czar Nicholas, Nietzsche, and Thomas Edison. At that time, Marienbad was located in Austria. Now it is located in the Czech Republic and is known as Mariánské Lázně.

O.K., so what did people do in Marienbad? They came to be cured of all sorts of ailments and to rest, sometimes for months on end. There were various springs with different curative properties. They drank the waters, which were sulphurous, they urinated (because the waters were diuretic), they went for walks, they took mineral baths, they ate well, they relaxed, and they socialized.

The Cafe Egerländer was one popular place to enjoy scenery of the Bohemian forest, as well as good company and good food. Here's a view of Marienbad from the cafe.

Here is the back of the second card:

The message on the card , addressed to Hon. E.M. Cullen, No. 1 Park Place in Albany, New York, reads:
This is a general view of Marienbad. Already the Dr. thinks I am much better. I hope all is well with you.  Much love
June 9th

I'm not sure when the card was sent, but it looks like maybe 1911. Anyway, forget about Marienbad, what's really interesting here is the identity of the recipient.

Thanks to the internet, the New York Times archives, and my snoopy nature, I can tell you that E.M. Cullen led an eventful life. He was born in Brooklyn in 1843 and graduated from Columbia University at 17.  He then went to Troy, New York to study civil engineering, but while he was there the Civil War broke out! He immediately enlisted, and at the age of 19 became commander of the 96th Regiment, New York State volunteers. After that, he served as Brigadier General for the State of New York and then Assistant District Attorney for Kings County. He was serving on the Supreme Bench of the Second Judicial District when New York's Governor, Teddy Roosevelt asked him to serve as a Supreme Court Justice for the State of New York in 1900. Like I said, forget about Marienbad.


  1. Thanks to the internet and your snoopy nature we get another fascinating story. Thanks.

  2. That's not H.G. Wells, is it? LOL Looks like it was a lovely place to visit. I wonder what it's like today?

  3. What a great story about Cullen. The Marienbad street scene is great, too!

  4. Oh goody, I get to correct C.H, that doesn't happen very often... It was Teddy Roosevelt, not FDR that appointed Cullen to the Supreme Court- FDR was only 18 at the time, would have been a major coup to be governor!

  5. Well aren't you just Mr. Smarty-pants-know-it-all? Oh, I mean Thanks. No, really, I like to know if I'm spreading misinformation, so I don't mind even though this ruins my story - because I really wanted it to be FDR. The story is not nearly as good if it's Teddy Roosevelt, as wonderful as he may have been. Don't worry, Mr. Anonymous, the quality of your meals will be unaffected by this comment. And yes, I will go back and edit the post, because it does appear that you are right.

  6. Spas are such interesting places, & they seem like a magnet for interesting people.

    Mr. Anonymous died suddenly this evening, apparently after eating some tainted salmon, details at eleven.

  8. Very funny! I thought the salmon was pretty good.



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