Sunday, October 31, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Edinburgh, Scotland

In many ways, Edinburgh's tram system was similar to systems in other cities. The city started out with horse-drawn cars in 1871. But then, instead of switching to electric overhead wires, they switched to a cable-drawn system. There were other cities around the world that did this, but few had them for very long. It wasn't until the 1922 that the cable system in Edinburgh was switched over to an electric traction system. Here are several pictures from the James Valentine views that I introduced last week. You can see the line between the tracks, indicating the location of the cable (and later the electric traction.)

I wish we could see the trams more clearly, but we can certainly see that they're double deck and open on the top. Another striking feature in this photo is the North British Station Hotel with the gardens in front. Yes, there's a railway station under those gardens (Waverley Station.)  It's such an elegant design approach. Here's another view looking out from the hotel.

The Hotel is now known as the Balmoral Hotel. According to Wikipedia, JK Rowling finished the last book in her Harry Potter series at the hotel. She lost her deposit and was sent a bill,  because she commemorated the occasion by writing in black marker pen on a marble bust of Hermes in her room: "JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007".

Anyway, back to the trams. The Edinburgh electric trams continued to operate until they were replaced with buses in 1956. Fast forward to 2007, when work began on bringing trams back to Edinburgh with a system that would link Leith with Edinburgh City and the airport. The project was scheduled for completion in 2011, but has been plagued by problems including delays and cost overruns. The snarled traffic and loss of revenue to local businesses has made the project fairly unpopular even among former supporters.  For more information on current happenings surrounding the Edinburgh tram system, visit Trams Stop Here!

And here's another view from this series showing a tram in Edinburgh.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jolly Halloween

This card was sent from Martha B. in Cooperstown, New York to Miss Viola Vincent in Sidney, New York. The message reads:

Oct 30, 1922
Come Up! or write
Dear Viola I hope you will have a good time on hollow'een. I am going to. I am going out. Are you? I am getting along fine in school. Are you? My average was 91.4. We are all well. Hope you are the same. just getting supper.  from your loving cousin Martha B.

Friday, October 29, 2010

James Valentine - Views of Edinburgh, Scotland

I apologize. I am once again straying away from postcards. I originally thought to use these as illustrations in combination with postcards of Scotland, but they are so beautiful that I decided to feature them on their own.

James Valentine was a Scottish photographer (1815-1879.) In the early years, Valentine produced studio photographs and then started concentrating on views of Scotland. I have approximately 20 of these views, which measure about 7" by 9".

I love that you can clearly read the signs for D. McLeod's Temperance Hotel and Knox's Corner China Warehouse (now a museum.) What a beautiful shot. Here's another one of the Tolbooth and Canongate. It really gives you a sense of what it would be like to walk down a street in  Edinburgh at the end of the 19th century.

After James Valentine's death in 1879, his sons retained the business and soon started focusing on producing postcards. They were employing 1,000 people by the turn of the century and by 1907, they had 40 people employed to retouch the postcard views. This is a job I would like to have had, except for the drawback of the lead-based paints, which could shorten your career and turn your skin a funny color if you got in the habit of licking your paintbrush. Otherwise, I love the idea of adding color, brightening skies, painting little fluffy clouds, and deciding what color the ladies' dresses will be. Alas, I was born too late.

By the 1950s, the focus of Valentine's turned to greeting cards. In 1980, they sold out to Hallmark cards, and in 1994, Valentine's Dundee factory closed.  I won't post all of the cards, but I will post more of them soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Halloween

This beautiful card is from Tracy of Tracy's Toys, one of my all-time favorite blogs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Miss Nettie Bee Visits Inverness

There is something special and intriguing about the Bee family from Scotland and the postcards they sent. I wish I knew more about them. The tone of their messages (sent and received)  always seemed upbeat, even during World War I, and the cards themselves were always soft and romantic.

Their holiday destinations seemed to be mostly in Scotland, such as Fife or Inverness, where this postcard was received by Nettie Bee. It reads:

Glad to hear you are having a good holiday
Thanks for your P.P.C. Hope you are not running away with all the boys there. Mary is very busy now getting ready for _____?
Remember me to your father.
Yours ______

If you want to see more of the Bee Family postcards, go down to the list of tags below and click on "The Bee Family."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The driver seems really worried, and the cats are bristling.  I wonder what's ahead. Hard to believe that Halloween is just around the corner.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Your Train Will Leave at...

Isn't this a handy reminder! You could even draw the hands on the clock to help you remember.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Hot Springs, Arkansas

This card is courtesy of Aimee Dars of The Postman Loves Me, who very sweetly set aside the streetcar postcards she encountered and sent them to me.

Hot Springs was the first city in Arkansas to have streetcar service, with mule-drawn streetcars from 1875 until 1893, and then electric streetcars until 1938.  This card shows a scene from about 1935.

I wasn't surprised to read that the streetcars in Arkansas were segregated by race at the turn of the century, but I was surprised to hear about the protests against it. In fact both white and black passengers seemed unhappy with being told where they could and couldn't sit. Black leaders organized a boycott after the enactment of the racial segregation in 1903.  The number of black riders dropped by 90 percent during the boycott, which lasted for three weeks. Unfortunately, the streetcar providers had little power to overturn the state law and segregation continued.

The depot in Hot Springs has been restored and there are now trolleys to take visitors through historic Hot Springs. If you want to see some older historic postcards of Hot Springs, there is a book entitled Hot Springs Arkansas in Vintage Postcards By Ray and Steven Hanley. It's really worth a look.

Here's the back of the card.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good Luck, Soldier Boy

A soldier stops in a small town in 1917 and gives his address to young woman. She sends him a card. Does he write back? Do they ever meet again? I guess we'll never know.

The message to Sergeant Johnson reads:
Dear Friend
Will drop you a card guess you remember handing me your address in Rockingham
hope you are well and having a nice time my address is 
Bessie Giles Rockingham, N.C.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hearst Newspapers Free Postcard Supplement

If you subscribed or bought a Hearst Sunday newspaper on December 27, 1903, you would have received this free postcard supplement. Then you could have cut them apart and mailed them off to friends and relatives telling them how much you loved the Christmas gifts they sent you.

They were printed on regular paper, not card stock, but the postal service was so gentle back then that I'm sure they arrived in good shape. I have more of these from 1903 and 1904, but Hearst made them as late as 1907. Here's the back side of the cards.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

G.A. Heyne, Druggist - Syracuse, New York

Here's a trade card, probably from the 1880s, from Syracuse, New York. Why the druggist would use a chef with a lobster on his card is a mystery to me, but it's a captivating picture.
In 1894 the State Department of Health of New York issued a report on the quality of diluted sulfuric acid from various druggists. G.A. Heyne received a rating of fair.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Uppity Women

Here's a great old German postcard characterizing the women's movement. It shows all the male-dominated venues that women could potentially infiltrate, and what might happen to men as a result. They could end up wearing aprons and feeding babies like the guy shown above. The caption under him says "The Man of the Future."

Women, in the meantime, would be taking over the male habitat and drinking beer in the morning,  going to smoking clubs, and paying for kisses from the kissing booth. Worst of all, these women would refuse to bear children and would instead pick them up from Stork & Co. And notice that almost all of these women appear to be wearing trousers. What a hilarious concept!

This card was sent to Leonard Beeler in Schwyz, Switzerland in about 1909.  In that very year, regional chapters of the Swiss Association for Women's Right to Vote were asking for equal rights for women. It was a long wait in Switzerland, as women there didn't even gain the right to vote until 1971 - yes, 1971!

Luckily, we don't have any strange or humorous perceptions of gender roles or differences today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gay's Lion Farm

Charles and Muriel Gay opened Gay's Lion Farm east of Los Angeles in El Monte, California in 1925.  They bred, trained, and exhibited lions there, and it quickly became a popular tourist attraction. Some of the lions they raised and trained were used in Hollywood movies.
I am so glad that the person who visited the farm took the time to write the date and a few other notes on the backs of the cards.
Saturday, July 17 - 1926  "Numa" This lion earns $10,000 a year in the movies.

This card also has the same date on the back.


Saturday - July 17 - 1926 "Slats"

Slats was the original MGM logo lion and was used in all the black-and-white MGM movies from 1924-1928.

In 1928, an unfortunate event happened while Charles and Muriel were in Europe. Three of the lions escaped as they were being moved between cages. The farm manager was slashed by one of the lions and ended up dying. That lion and the other two had to be shot.

Gay's Lion Farm had to close in 1942 because war shortages made it impossible for them to get the ton of horse meat they needed daily to feed the lions. Although the farm no longer exists, there is allegedly a life-size statue of a lion at the Interstate 10 overpass where the farm used to be. Somehow, this reminds me of the North-going Zax and South-going Zax from Dr. Seuss.  Remember them? They meet face-to-face in the Valley of Prax and are both unwilling to move. Eventually freeways and overpasses are built around them. It's just a visual similarity, although the moral of the Seuss story (compromise) doesn't apply here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mini Views of Florida

Here are some bright mini views of Florida, a keepsake from someone who went there on vacation from Binghamton (Bingo), New York in 1947.  The views measure about 2.5 by 3.5 inches. I especially like the train. All 20 views are still in the folder, but I only selected 9 of them to post.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Portland's Morrison Street

Here are two views of Morrison Street in Portland from similar vantage points, but a decade apart. On the first one, you see the post office on the near left side with the Oregon Hotel in the background. On the right-hand side, you see the Marquam Grand Theater, the brick building. It was built in1891 and was also known as the Marquam Grand Opera House. Both Sandra Bernhardt and Mark Twain entertained audiences here. I am sure the MG on the streetcar stands for Marquam Grand.

Notice that in the second card, the theater is no longer there and a new building has taken its place.

Dan Haneckow of Cafe Unknown does such a beautiful job of describing this fascinating transition, that I urge you to check out his blog if you're interested in the details. And here is a link to an earlier Portland Streetcar Sunday post on this blog. And, last but not least, here are the back sides of the cards:

here's the view as it looks today, with the former Meier and Frank department store (now Macy's) on the right.

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Random Acts of Kindness

I may not deserve it, but I have been the recipient of three very gracious random acts of kindness this week - and probably more if I really thought about it. However, these three acts are all postcard and blog related, so that's why I'm highlighting them here.

#1 - Brian from Paper Sponge sent me a very nice book as a prize for the recent caption contest on his blog. Although I officially won the contest, there was a caption that I admit was better than mine, if a little off-color.  I apologize to that person, but the book is mine. Sorry, maybe next time you will mind your language and get the prize you deserve.

When I first looked at this book,  I was certain that it was from a later period than the Sally, Dick, and Jane books, so I was surprised to see that the book is from 1965. Why surprised? Well, because this book has BLACK children in it! Asians too! I don't remember that from Sally, Dick, and Jane. Here's the cover of this revolutionary book, which still maintains the basic illustration style of S,D, and J.

#2 Aimee Dars of The Postman Loves Me sent me an envelope with seven carefully selected streetcar postcards that she had been setting aside for me - this in the middle of her wedding preparations. Wow! I will post the cards on future Streetcar Sundays, but here is one of them as a preview. Thank you, Aimee.
Finally, my cousin-in-law - or whatever you call the person who marries your cousin - sent me a book. He had heard about the title, tracked it down, bought it, and sent it off to me. I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you, Gabriel! Here's the cover (scary, huh?):

These random acts of kindness not only made my week, they also inspired me to think about ways that I may be able to extend random acts of kindness to others. Not sure what yet, but I'm working on it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Newhouse Hotel - Salt Lake City, Utah're tired of Utah posts!  I hope not. Anyway, this is the last one. Here is the Newhouse Hotel. I find varying reports that the hotel was built in 1912 or in 1915, but that seems unlikely since this card was clearly sent in 1911 - unless it was entirely an artist's rendition. The people are certainly drawn in. The flag doesn't seem real.  The hotel may also have been partially finished at this time. The Utah Historical Society told me that the hotel was built between 1909 and 1915. Hmm, oh well.

In the early boom days, this was the place important people met and deals were made.  Samuel Newhouse, a mining magnate, was trying to create a business area akin to Wall Street in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, his money started running right about the time he was building this hotel. Although it was elegant, it never quite met his expectations.

The card was sent to Miss L. Kleikbrink (Kleinbrink?)  on August 7, 1911
It reads:

Milford, Utah  Aug. 7 -11
Dear Friend
received your letter a few days ago and I was sure glad to hear from you and to know that you wear well and that you had a nice time when you wear on the farm. Well I will let go this time hopbing to hear from you again your friend G. Welsh (?)

The Newhouse Hotel remained for many decades until it was declared unsafe and too costly to rehabilitate in the 1980s. It was demolished with explosives in 1983 and was replaced by a surface parking lot.

Troy Snow was there and took this amazing photo, which he graciously allowed me to use.

You can see more of his photos on Flickr.


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