Monday, February 28, 2011

The Kaiser's Military Manoeuvres - Elbing, Germany

You can't visit Elbing anymore, or at least no place that goes by that name. The northern German city of Elbing was severely damaged during World War II. After the war, the German citizens were expelled and the city was repopulated with Polish citizens and given the name Elblag.
I bought this card because I thought it was a beautiful street scene. I also found it charming because it looked like it had been sent from a group of international students to their teacher's wife.  Oh, but I was very wrong about that. I actually had written up the post based on that assumption when I decided to do a quick search of the name S.G. Shartle.

Samuel G. Shartle was not a teacher, but the U.S. Military Attaché to Berlin from 1909 until 1915. Although military attachés were not spies, they were the army's eyes and ears abroad at a time when there was no satellite photography or sophisticated electronic intelligence. Captain Shartle was a frequent guest of Kaiser Wilhelm at events and dinners, and especially the military manoeuvres of which Kaiser Wilhem was so fond. A New York Times article from September 16, 1909, entitled "Kaiser Sees Airship at Work with Army" starts out like this: Surrounded by a brilliant company, including the King of  Württemberg, the Grand Dukes of Baden and Hesse, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Winston Spencer Churchhill, The Earl of Lonsdale, and Capt. Samuel G. Shartle, the American Military Attache at Berlin, Emperor William witnessed the dramatic appearance of the military dirigible balloon Gross II, which emerged from the clouds overhanging the valley of Tauber this morning.

A year later, and the Kaiser is once again holding his military manoeuvres, this time in Elbing, Prussia. Once again, Captain Shartle and other important international visitors were invited to observe. Captain Shartle took the opportunity to send a postcard to his wife in Berlin, which he seems to have passed around the table for others to sign as well. It was sent on September 9, 1910. If only I could make out all the names!

Here's what I've been able to decipher so far (with lots of big question marks, so please offer suggestions.) Some of the names are highlighted with links, in case you're interested in finding out more about them.

Greetings from
  • Lt. Col. Pellé, French Military Attaché (updated 3/2/2011 -  Thanks to Peter H. from Australia for that information.)
  • Von Palten ?
  • L. Calderari (Maggiore Generale Conte Luigi Calderari, Commander of an Italian Infantry Division during WWI, but I'm not sure what his title was in 1910...Attaché?)
  • Shartle  (U.S. Military Attaché to Berlin)
  • Dorrin
  • Alick Russell (British Military Attaché and son of Lord Odo Russell, 1st Baron Ampthill)
  • Schenfelt  (update 3/1/11 - Gustav Oskar Von Schenfelt, Swedish Military Attaché - Thanks to PB in Germany for that information)

Hearty Greetings from
  • M. Mehdi Khan   (presumably Malik Talib Mehdi Khan, Deputy Commissioner Ambassador to Kabul and former Prime Minister of the Princeley State of Bahawalpur)
  • A. Lüttwitz (General Major Arthur Rudolf Freiherr von Lüttwitz, German Military Attaché to England and Russia, and during World War I, commander of several infantry brigades and divisions. Here's another picture of him - standing on the right.)
  • Hironobu Ono (from Japan, but not sure who he was)

And then, the Turkish signature with the EB in the box appears to be none other than
  • Enver Pasha (known as Enver Bey at the time or Ismael Enver Efendi.) He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I.
There is also a small illegible signature for which I have no ideas.

Finally, written very small at the bottom it says: Your husband behaved very well.

Here's a picture of Enver Pasha from a German postcard:
Enver pasha ww1

As a postscript, I also found this letter written to Time magazine from Col. Shartle in 1929:

May I call attention to an error in the title below the picture on p. 14, TIME, Nov. 25? It should read "Theodore Roosevelt and Friends," omitting "Kaiser Wilhelm," for he was not there. This picture was taken early in the morning, May 10, 1910, at the exit of the private waiting room of one of Berlin's railroad stations (Stettiner Bahnhof, I think), while the Colonel and members of the American Embassy there to receive him waited for their conveyances to come up. The crowd outside was cheering. I recall this occasion very distinctly and even more distinctly the actual meeting of Theodore Roosevelt and Emperor Wilhelm, which took place the next day at an entrance of the Neu Palais, Potsdam; the Emperor stepped forward and heartily greeted the ex-President as he alighted from his carriage. I happen to know, because I was present on both occasions—as the Military Attache at Berlin and, for the week of the Colonel's visit, his Aide. The four figures in the doorway, shown in the picture in question are, left to right, Theodore Roosevelt, myself, a German officer (probably an adjutant representing the Emperor), Irwin Laughlin (the First Secretary of the Embassy).
Colonel, C. A. C. (Dol).

*Many thanks to Yasuko and Jens for the Japanese and Arabic translations for this post.*

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Hong Kong, China

I'm hooked on the double-deck trams, so I had to show a card from Hong Kong, where they have a fabulous tram system and beautiful double-deck cars.
This card is probably only thirty years old, but the trams have changed since then. The one shown here is the same one that had been used since the 1930s. Hong Kong has had a tramway system since 1904, when it was set up by the British. The double-deck tram was introduced in 1912, with first-class seating on the open-air upper deck. Although it was great during fair weather, when it rained, the open-air seating didn't seem like such a benefit, so canvas tops were added by 1913. By 1925, the upper deck was fully enclosed.

Although service expanded and improved over the years, it was severely curtailed during the Japanese occupation in the early 1940s. After the occupation, only 15 cars were operational, but that number quickly rose to 63 by 1946. Eventually the first class fare was eliminated. Hong Kong trams have used advertising banners for a long time and continue to do so, generating  additional income for the system.

Hong Kong Tramway now operates six main routes with trams departing every 1.5 minutes during peak hours. You can also hire trams for private tram parties.  For more information, check out Hong Kong Tramways, Limited.

And here, courtesy of Susi, who has been hanging out in Hong Kong while her husband is in the hospital, is a current photo of the Hong Kong tram.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sepia Saturday -Tijuana, Mexico

At the turn of the last century and into the 1940s, U.S. citizens would go to Mexico on a whim for shopping and entertainment, since Tijuana was just across the border from San Diego. During Prohibition, they could go there to drink. There was also gambling, but that ended in 1935. After that, it became more of a family destination.
This photo was taken in 1938. My mother is riding the burro and her mother is on the left, sitting with Esther and Grace Meyers.

Here's a postcard from about ten years earlier.

Be sure to stop by Sepia Saturday for amusing stories and enchanting photographs.

Verona, Italy with Walker & Weeks

Here are some great old postcards of Verona from the collection of Walker & Weeks architects. They probably took a trip to Italy and collected the cards for inspirational examples. Frank R. Walker (1877-1949) and Harry F. Weeks (1871-1935) established their firm in Cleveland, Ohio in 1911. They were well known for their bank buildings, but they also designed churches, libraries, hospitals, and bridges. I'm thankful that their postcards fell into my hands.

All of the postcards have the same stamp on the back.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Watch Gadaffi

You probably won't be visiting Libya right now, which means you won't be picking up any of these fine Muammar Gadaffi souvenirs. I didn't go either, but my mother did and brought back these gems -a watch and a keychain. Let me just say that the wristwatch NEVER worked - not Mom's fault.  I'm not about to take it back to Libya and ask for a replacement.

This may not be the ideal time to visit Iran either, and the hotel doesn't look so great for that matter, but at least you'll have a place to stay...if the hotel's still there.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get Well, Thomas!

My friends Susi and Thomas went to Hong Kong a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, Thomas fell ill as soon as they arrived and has been in the hospital ever since. He'll likely be there another week. In his honor, and with the hope that he will recover soon, I am posting this not-so-old postcard from Hong Kong.

This is the Peak Tower Restaurant in Victoria Gap, built at the upper terminus of the peak tram in 1972. While it's not exactly my favorite building, I wonder if it wouldn't have benefited by taking the photo from a different vantage point. In any case, it's not there anymore, so it doesn't really matter.
The Peak Tower was redeveloped in 1997 based on a design by British architect, Terry Farrell.
Here's what it looks like now:
Courtesy of Minghong
More views and history of the Peak Tower are available here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Smithville Flats is Flooded

In 1935 the small town of Smithville Flats, New York was hit by a massive flood after two nearby dams gave out. Residents of the the town were filled with trepidation when the Broome County Transient Bureau sent in transients to work on the extensive clean up efforts. However, the transients worked hard in unpleasant conditions and residents were soon pleased with the results.

Now, if you happen to be heading over to Smithville, I would like to alert you to a good deal. Since Leon Tyler's General Merchandise has entered into an agreement with a leading photo studio in nearby Binghamton, if you buy $5.00 of merchandise you get a portrait almost absolutely free (if you don't count the 10 cents you pay to Leon Tyler for the card and the 5 cents to the studio.) Unfortunately, as with most other coupons, I have let the expiration date pass. It expired in 1925, but I find that some merchants will still honor expired coupons if you ask nicely.

And, it is signed, as required, on the back by Leon Tyler himself!

Oh, and here's the back of that postcard, for people who like that sort of thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day, Presidents' Day, President's Day

You decide. Which is it?
Tomorrow is Washington's birthday. Lincoln's birthday was February 12th. Some people think that Presidents Day is just Washington's birthday moved to a consistent and more convenient Monday. Others think of it as a combined Washington/Lincoln birthday, and still others think of this day as a day to commemorate all presidents. Since states are not required to observe federal holidays, observance varies. Some states still observe Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays separately, others don't.  The fact that I am posting George Washington cards and no Abraham Lincoln cards, only means that I have lots of Washington cards and very few Lincoln cards.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Streetcar Sundays - Aberdeen, Scotland

I look forward to visiting Scotland some day soon. When I do, I hope to ride on the Edinburgh trams, assuming the project has been completed by then. Unfortunately, they won't have double-deck trams like the ones shown on this postcard of Aberdeen. They'll still be beautiful, but sleek and modern.

Aberdeen doesn't have any trams at all anymore, since the Aberdeen Corporation Tramways closed in 1958. I wonder if the difficult process with the new trams system in Edinburgh will serve as a deterrent to other Scottish cities who might have considered reintroducing trams.

Here's some beautiful old footage of buses and double-deck trams in Aberdeen.

Note: In case you're interested, I added several pictures to the Streetcar Sunday post for Montreal from several weeks ago.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Not Our Chicken Boy, I Hope

Remember the recent post on Hillside House near lake George in New York? And the card of the young boy running with the chickens? Well, I found another card sent from the Hillside House.
Here are small versions of the ones from the previous post.
I was excited to find another card to one of the Ripleys with some additional information on the back - some good news and some not. This is not the Hillside House, although it looks somewhat similar.

The card was sent to Ida Ripley in 1921 (?) from Ann.  One of the previous cards was sent to B.P. Ripley.
Update: Thanks to Linda Ripley Smith for stopping by and providing information on the Ripleys. Benajah Perry (B.P. )Ripley was her grandfather and Ida A. Ripley was his sister.

Here's the message from the back of the card:

Dear Ida
Will write you a letter soon. Am quite busy now. We have 13 people now. Was so sorry for you all in the loss of the little one. 
lots of love Ann

I couldn't really tell what the postmark date for the picture above of the 'youngest' one running with the chickens, but it looks as if it may also have been 1921. Whether it was our chicken boy or not, it appears that one of the grandchildren perished. Update: Again, see Linda's comments below for explanation of the death.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lots O' Guns - Claremore, Oklahoma

This is a postcard folder you might want to send to someone who owes you a lot of money - as a subtle hint. There's no room to write a message anyway.
No, he aint foolin'.

There are 18 views in this folder. I'm just going to post some of them.
The museum is still there in Claremore, Oklahoma, though it has moved to a new location.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great Wall Architecture

Trying to be helpful, I suggested that the architect who steals my covers might want to emulate these fine examples. It seems he's a little stubborn and not open to new ideas.

Amazingly, the Great Wall is still standing.  It looks much the same in the street view, but it was closed in 2010.  Here's a link to the street view and to a photo on Flickr with commentary on the restaurant.

I think it's fair to say that the Sands is in a separate category from the other two. I'm adding some extra information, inspired by Howard's question in the comments below.
The Sands was designed by Architect Wayne McAllister and built in 1952.  In its heyday, it was the place to be.  It was the place where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.,  Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford first appeared on stage together.  At one point,  the Sands was owned by Howard Hughes.  By 1996, despite the addition of a large tower, it had lost its appeal and was imploded and demolished.  The Venetian was built in the same location after the Sands was demolished. It looks like this now. Makes the Sands look kind of quaint in comparison.

View Larger Map

Here are the backs of these cards, in case you want to go see them in person.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More from Columbia, South Carolina

Much of  Columbia, South Carolina was destroyed by fire in 1865 during the Civil War when Union troops lead by General Sherman occupied the city. Today, you can still visit the remnants of some structures that survived the Civil War, as well as more recent historic buildings.

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Royal Army Service Corps

This is an embroidered silk card from World War I, with the initials A.S.C.

Those letters could stand for any of the following:
American Society of Cinematographers
Artichoke Society of Canberra
Aeronautical Systems Center
Association of Society Cadavers
Ambulatory Surgical Center

In this case, the letters stand for the Army Service Corps, although they were sometimes referred to as Ally Sloper's Cavalry, after a contemporary rent-dodging, drunkard cartoon character.  However, the truth is that this corps played a very important role in World War I. Their name was changed to the Royal Army Service Corps. in 1918.
The A.S.C. was responsible for transport and supply of food, equipment,  munitions and other supplies on and off the battlefield. Although they were instrumental in winning the war, they are considered unsung heroes, because they rarely recognized for their importance.
Here's the back of the card. Silk cards from WWI were typically made in France.
Jo from Scotland recently posted some amusing old photos of the Royal Army Service Corps. Click here to see them.


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