Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hotel Hermitage - New York

This hotel could hardly look more drab and uninviting, except for the advertisement painted on the side of the building promising single rooms for $1.50 and double rooms for $2.50. For less than $250, you could have rented the entire hotel for your private party. Another interesting and typical feature of this postcard is that the surrounding buildings are obscured. In black-and-white photographs this may have seemed necessary to guide the viewer's eye to the intended focus. Still, I don't think it makes the hotel appear in the best light. I think we need some bright colors here.

Although there is no date on this card, the grayed out marquis on the neighboring movie theater is screening A Woman Rebels, starring Katherine Hepburn, a film that came out in 1936.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Union Terminal - Cincinnati, Ohio

The Union Terminal was built in 1933 and declared an historic landmark in 1977. It was renovated and reopened as the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990. I haven't seen the exterior of the building, but the pictures I have seen are striking, and it has been named one of the top 50 architecturally significant buildings in the United States. Although the terminal is still there, the concourse area you see on the card was demolished in the early 1970s.  This may have been the impetus to declare the terminal an historic landmark. The 20-foot glass mosaics on the walls were moved to the airport.
The architect who steals my covers just returned from the annual Frank Lloyd Wright conference, which was held in Cincinnati this year.  He visited the terminal and brought me back this lovely souvenir - a pair of Union Terminal socks! Not only are they stylish and comfy, but I think I may be the only one on my block with a pair.

Here's the back of the postcard:

The message to John J. Marshall reads:
Sorry I didn't get to say so 'long but hear I am in the terminal building at Cincinnati (what a joint you ought to see it) and headed for Fort Knox.
Time 4:30 P.S. Get Ida's address and say hello

You can find out more about the history of the Union Terminal here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

High Water - Pittsburgh, PA

This card, showing high water in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is probably from the March 1907 flood.
The report below from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is courtesy of  the GenDisasters website:

PITTSBURG, March 15.—Flood losses in Allegheny county are summarized as follows:

Loss in output of steel mills, $3,000,000; loss in output of other industries, $2,000,000; loss in wages of employees, $1,837,000, estimated damage to industrial plants, $2,500,000; total, $9,337,000.

With the rapid receding of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers which is taking place tonight conditions are fast assuming normal proportions and the most destructive flood in the history of the city is at an end. At nightfall the approaches to the bridges were clear of water and several hours later street car service was resumed.

Thousands of suburbanites who have been stranded in this city since yesterday were able to reach their homes while the downtown section, which has been crowded with sightseers, is almost deserted. The only indications of the flood in the downtown section tonight are the many pipes across the sidewalks through which water is being pumped from submerged basements. In several districts power plants have been repaired and candles, used for thirty-six hours, have been replaced with electric lights.

At 9 o’clock to-night the rivers had fallen almost eight feet. At that hour the stage was twenty-nine feet, and dropping a half foot an hour.

Immediately following the subsiding of the water the task of repairing the damage was begun. A majority of the employees of the large manufacturing establishments who were temporarily thrown out of employment are endeavoring to put the plants in working order and by Monday most of these will have resumed operations.

Railway service is being restored but local train schedules have been revised, allowing each train more time. This action was taken owing to the fear that the roadbeds may have been weakened by the water. In some instances sections of tracks have been washed away and a number of railroad bridges outside of Pittsburg were damaged.

Excitement was caused to-day by several fires. One which swept the Mt. Washington district had to be dynamited on account of a shortage of water in the mains. The loss is about $225,000.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN 16 Mar 1907

Monday, September 27, 2010

Palm Beach, Florida

The message sent to Ralph Jillson in 1945 reads:
This is where you should come and what a good time you would have swimming every day.
(illegible name)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Leipzig, Germany

The emphasis of this postcard is obviously the City Hall, not the streetcar, but if you look off to the left there it is.  Another thing I noticed about this card is that the people who tinted the German and Dutch cards tended to make small but very stylized and distinctive clouds. The American ones often have a bank of clouds. Do you care? Probably not, but if you look at enough postcards you start to notice these things.

The streetcar system in Leipzig, Germany developed in a similar fashion to other systems around the world. The Leipzig trams, or streetcars, started out in 1872 as horse-drawn cars, with service provided by the Leipziger Pferdeeisenbahn (Leipzig Horse railway.) The company was enormously successful and eventually owned 1,013 horses and 172 cars.  Life was good until the competition came along.

That's another commonality with other systems around the world. Today, public transit is typically provided by a jurisdiction or by a single entity. There is rarely competition or duplication between systems. But in the early days of the streetcar, there were often multiple service providers, even in small towns. This in turn led to some systems going under and also consolidations. In the case of Leipzig, the new competitor came along in the 1800s and started developing an electric tramway system. This action spurred the horse-car railway folks to convert to electric power too. The last horse-drawn car service operated in 1897.

After World War I, the systems were replaced by a publicly-operated system, which eventually also operated buses and trolleybuses. Many streetcar segments were damaged or closed for other reasons during World War II. The closures continued after the war, although the antiquated streetcar system operated continuously. A real resurgence in streetcar development in Leipzig didn't take place until the 1980s, when a number of new segments were opened. You can see a detailed history of the Leipzig streetcar system here. You can also visit this site to see what the current system looks like.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Skating on the Frozen Fuschl Lake

Imagine you are driving with your family through Austria and you stop at a beautiful lake. You wander down to the shore and discover that the lake is frozen almost solid. Imagine that you just happen to have your ice skates in the car. That is the magical experience we had several years/decades ago.  We were the only people on the lake and it was like glass. There I am on the right. This is a scan from a slide, so a little murky, but you can see how smooth that ice was.

I was reminded of this recently when I received a Postcrossing card from Julia who lives near Fuschl. It looks much the same now  as it did back then.

Skate on over to Sepia Saturday for more family photos from fine folks.

Friday Fish Special

So many fish!  Don't forget to read this previous post if you want to know more about the French tradition of April Fish. This young fellow in his adorable outfit appears to have an abundance of fish. The message at the bottom of the card says: I address you with pleasure.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Diving Board Follies

Before a federal law was enacted some decades ago, people would wantonly lie or sit on diving boards, preventing others from practicing their diving skills or enjoying a refreshing splash in the water. Thankfully those days are gone and we can all enjoy free access to diving boards everywhere, since scofflaws will now see their swimming privileges revoked and may face time in the slammer.  O.K., not really, but there have been sillier laws. Did you believe it for a minute?

Anyway, here are some cards showing early perpetrators. Shocking, isn't it?  While the husband blocks access to the diving board, his wife attempts to prevent another hapless swimmer from climbing the ladder to get out of the pool. These people are a menace.

There's nothing children love more than swimming pools, but this poor child may be out of luck, under the threatening gaze of  Zelda and Dottie, both intent upon blocking her access to the pool.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cherub with Phone

Since when do cherubs talk on the phone anyway? Well, at least it's not a cell phone.

It must be hard to type on a textured card like this, but it didn't stop Anna Calway, who was writing to her friend Nancy Davis in Merrifield, New York.  Only at the end did she add a couple of handwritten words, including: "Don't mind how this is written" on the side.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Luck Tobacco

This is another one of those metamorphic trade cards, again circa 1880.  Fold the bottom down and the picture is transformed:

Here's the back, which is not in the best shape:
And finally, here's some information on Cotterill, Fenner, and Co. from The Industrial Advance of Dayton, Ohio - Historical, Statistical, Descriptive Review, published in 1889 :
North Star Tobacco Works, East Second Street.
            In the rapid development of the industries of Dayton during the past quarter of a century, the manufacture of tobacco has been advanced to a prominent position, and in the van among other enterprises stands the old established and reliable house of Messrs. Cotterill, Fenner & Co.  The business was founded in 1855, and after an honorable and successful career of nearly a third of a century today enjoys the highest reputation for the production of the best quality goods in its line.  The premises occupied cover an extensive area, 100x200 feet in dimensions, upon which is located the main factory, a building four stories high and built of brick, in addition to a two-story frame structure adjoining.  Steam power from a forty horse power engine is used to operate the machinery and appliances, which are of the very best and most modern character.  Employment is given to sixty-five operatives.  Messrs. Cotterill, Fenner & Co. manufacture a variety of smoking and chewing tobacco, but their leading specialty is the celebrated North Star chewing tobacco, which is highly popular throughout the country and is staple with the trade.  In the manufacture of this tobacco the greatest care is exercised in the selection of the leaf, to insure quality and uniformity, and each process is critically supervised.  The result is the production of a chewing tobacco that for purity, quality, and flavor is seldom equaled and never excelled.  The goods are sold in all sections of the United States, and four traveling salesmen are constantly on the road.  The members of the firm are Messrs. A.C. Marshall, G.H. Gorman and H.Z. Marshall.  The liberal policy upon which this business has been and is conducted and the amplitude of its facilities rank it among the first of its contemporaries.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Union Station - Washington, D.C.

For some reason I love this card - the perspective, the sign, the columns, and mostly just the space.

The card was sent to Merton Chapin in 1923. The message reads:
 Washington, January 19, 1923
Dear Cousins.
Am spending a part of my vacation in N.Y., Phil, Baltimore and Washington and having the time of my life. I expect to be in Ohio very soon and spend a few days with my folks.  I am seeing the most wonderful things imaginable. Expect to go out to see the president tomorrow. Also intend to do the Engraving Dept. and the Treasury.  N.L.C.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - K.C. Excelsior Springs

This stunning card comes from Brian over at Paper Sponge. Isn't it a beauty?

As a side note, yesterday was a very interesting blog day. According to the Statcounter, I normally get 90 - 100 unique visitors in one day. I don't ascribe a lot of importance to numbers, but I was surprised when the number of unique visitors exceeded 2,200 for the day. What the heck was going on? Well, there must have been some article somewhere that sent people scrambling for images of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.  They all stopped by to look at this post from almost a year ago. I find it amusing, but I also know that they are not really interested in postcards and they won't be back. It's hard to believe that greater interest is generated by Grace Kelly than by this lovely interurban.

In general, Interurbans were designed to provide an alternative to the steam trains and their infrequent service. The interurbans were often luxuriously appointed with leather or velvet seats, and they were also fairly fast (in theory 80 miles per hour, although 50 or 60 represented the reality.) They allowed residents of outlying areas to reach bigger cities. They also allowed for a great deal of travel between cities, and cross-country travel for those who linked trips between interurban services. Sadly, they weren't around very long, mostly because cars came along, which seemed so much more convenient.

The Kansas City, Excelsior Springs, and St. Joseph Railway operated two light-rail lines powered by overhead wires - one between Kansas City and Excelsior Springs and another between Kansas City and St. Joseph. It ran hourly, and the fare was $1.55. It took about two hours between cities. This interurban ran from the early 1900s until 1933. Grace Kelly would have looked great riding in it.

Here's the back of the card, sent in 1921:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Forgive Me, Post Office, For I Have Sent

In addition to Sepia Saturday, two things inspired this post:

I. Doug over at Crazy as A Cool Fox tagged me to participate in a meme. I don't usually participate in these, because this blog is supposed to be about postcards and other ephemera and not about me.  But, I told myself that it would be O.K. as long as I listed seven things about myself that are related to mail.

II. Matthew May from the U.K. emailed me about a book review in the New Yorker concerning an eccentric Englishman who sends himself (and lots of other crazy things) through the mail. This reminded me of some of the things I had posted over the years. It also reminded me of the ensuing guilt when the U.S. Post Office adopted strict mailing guidelines, which I was sure were precipitated entirely by my oddly-shaped letters and packages.

Back in the good old days, you could send virtually anything. A friend and I had a bit of a competition going to see what we could get the postal service to deliver. Here are seven of the items we mailed:
  1. A candy bar (an Idaho Spud to be exact, the candy bar that made Boise famous)
  2. A salad (the salad was arranged on a paper plate along with a plastic fork, knife, and a dressing packet. Another plate was placed on top and the edges were stapled.)
  3. A mushroom commonly known as a puffball
  4. A sandwich (saran wrapped)
  5. An egg
  6. A carrot
  7. A box of cereal
The Post office was amazing. All of the items were delivered, with the exception of the egg.  My friend was disappointed that I didn't receive it, especially as the person behind him in line snarled and called him a communist.

I want to point out that I do not condone anything that makes work harder for the postman. Seriously, I am so appreciative of postal employees and the work they do. Unfortunately, as a youth I did not have this understanding.

How much to mail this?
Sit still, brother! I need to affix enough postage to get you to Grandma's house.
Don't even think about it!
Don't forget to look in on Sepia Saturday for some truly fine old photos by respectable folks.
Oh, and here's the book review that talks about the eccentric Englishman who sent himself through the mail. He was much worse than I ever was. New Yorker Review

Thoughts of You

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Les Avants Funicular

This funicular has been running for almost 100 years near Geneva, Switzerland. It looks like some kind of 100-year celebration may be in the works.

Eugen sent this to his sister at the Moraine Hotel in Highland Park, Illinois in 1913. It reads:
Les Avants, 14/12/13
Your brother sends you the best wishes from here.
It's still nice here!

If you go to Lake Geneva and want to ride the funicular, you can find out more here. You can also find out more about where you can go to hear Swiss alphorns.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hotel Adams - Phoenix, Arizona

The Hotel Adams was located at First Ave. and Washington Street in Phoenix. It's not there anymore, but I'm not sure when it was torn down. Back in the days of this postcard (1915-1920), Phoenix had a vibrant central downtown, supported in part by the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe Railways. Since then, the city has expanded outward.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Greetings from the Mayo Clinic - #2

Here's the second postcard from Estace, a patient at the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1945.  He seems to have had a sense of humor and a perhaps a flair for drama.

The message reads:
Dear Norma -
I'm writing this on the bed pan. Was operated on last Fri and nearly didn't come out of it. Wanted to write you before but was to sick. Hope I'll be a new person now. I was x rayed from head to foot. I'm at St. Mary's Hospital. They treat me fine but I'll be glad to leave. I should of sent you a (?) in the letter I sent you a few days ago but intended to be back in Detroit and not here. So sorry about all your troubles. You sure have your share lately. Hope I can write more interesting letter soon.
ByBy Love Estace

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greetings from the Mayo Clinic - #1

This is the first of two cards that Estace sent to Norma McCarthy from his eventful visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The card seems to have gotten wet. I didn't worry about that until I read the next card, which I will post tomorrow. The message on this one reads:
Dear Norma -
I'm still among the living altho they thought I was a goner for awhile! Was out from 1:45 AM or so until after midnight. The doctor sent my sister home but she knew I was bad and could not sleep. I came too with a Dr.  + 2 nurses over me. Had a special nurse for day but I snapped out of it soon.  You know I always had a good come back even if I did look like a living corpse. Well I hope as soon as I get better will be able to see you so I'm planning on coming out before I take off for sunshine. Dr. orders. I'll write you more later. By By and hope this finds you all well. Love Estace
will be at 5530 Horger St. Dearborn, Mich.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Chicago, Illinois

As in many other cities around the world, Chicago started out with horse-drawn streetcars in 1859.  Many cities transitioned from the horse-drawn vehicles to electric-powered ones starting in the 1880s, but Chicago invested heavily in a cable car system instead, eventually creating the largest cable car system in the world. While cable cars have a distinct advantage in hilly cities like San Francisco, they are generally inefficient and expensive relative to electric streetcars operating with overhead wires.  Chicago didn't have the hills to warrant a cable car system, so operators began making the transition from cable to electric by the 1890s.

The streetcars thrived throughout the 1920s, but already began their decline in the '30s falling to competition from cars and buses.  In 1957, the last streetcar routes were replaced with bus routes. This postcard is likely from the early 1920s and includes a pitch for the Gray Line bus sightseeing tours: P.S. Saw this view while riding the Gray Line sightseeing car -The Best Everywhere.
Here's an earlier post that shows a double-deck sightseeing bus (though not a Gray Line) in Chicago.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sailor Suits Saturday

A quick break from postcards today. Here's a class picture from about 1910. I don't know for sure where it's from, but I suspect it was a school in or near Binghamton, New York.
What fascinates me, besides the adorable faces of all of these children, is the number and variety of sailor suits.  According to the Fashion Industry of Design Museum blog, the sailor suit became popular, first in England and then in the United States, after Queen Victoria dressed  5-year-old Albert Edward, Prince of  Wales, in a scaled-down version of the Royal Navy uniform for a portrait. The article's author also points out that boys seemed to actually like wearing sailor suits, which was not the case with previous fashions, such as the Little Lord Fauntleroy suit.

Sail on over to Sepia Saturday for more great photos from the past.

Purple Velvet Dress

The little girl's dress on this postcard is actually soft and velvety.  Not surprisingly, the card was printed in Germany.  At the turn of the century, most of the outstanding cards were printed there.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Italian Swiss Colony

Whenever I've been to a wine-tasting event, the hosts were never dressed like this, and they were much more serious. Mind you, these two seem to be pouring for themselves and ignoring us.  You can't buy Italian Swiss Colony wine anymore, but you can see the old advertisement and jingle on Youtube.

Italian Swiss Colony was one of the most visited wineries in California back in its day. Today it is known as Cellar No. 8 at Asti Winery.
If you would like to find out more about the history of Italian Swiss Colony, click here. Here's another rather dull card of the winery from the 1940s:


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