Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Main Streets in Raton and Clovis, New Mexico

Raton means rat or mouse in Spanish. I'm not sure why anyone would want to name a town after a rodent, and this doesn't even look like a place where rats would want to be (no harbor!). What a main street though! It doesn't look quite as lively today, though some of the old buildings are still standing. Raton currently has a population of about 7,200.

And here we have Clovis, another New Mexico town with a great main street. The Hotel Clovis, on the left-hand side, is still standing. And while I don't know how Raton got its name, I can tell you how Clovis was named. The town was originally called Riley's Switch, because it was a Santa Fe railroad town and it must have been the place where Riley controlled the railroad switch.

The name of the current town reportedly came from the station master's daughter who was studying Clovis, King of the Franks at the time. Isn't that sweet? - a schoolgirl gets to name a town (current population of approximately 38,000) after something she's interested in. It ended up going far beyond that though. Years later, when Indian artifacts were unearthed near Clovis, researchers named the pre-historic Paleo Indian culture after the nearby town. When you hear of the Clovis culture or the Clovis Indians (thought to be the first human inhabitants of the new world), think of that little girl. Had she been studying Napoleon at the time, they might have been called the Napoleon Indians. Had she been reading Flaubert or Emily Bronte, they might have had yet another name.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tram Tuesday - Wiesbaden

Although there is no close-up of the tram, this card really gives you an idea of what it would be like to be standing on the street in Wiesbaden at the turn of the century.  But for the sulfurous spa waters, I would love to  be transported there. All three of these cards show the same street, the Wilhelmstrasse, named after Kaiser Wilhelm. Sadly, Wiesbaden eliminated its tram system in 1955.

 Here are the backs of the cards in  reverse order. The first one sings the praises of Wiesbaden and particularly the beautiful Wilhelmstrasse (la rue Guillaume) and its shops and foreign banks. The writer also mentions a casino along the promenade that people may visit after a concert in the park.

Inspired by the message on this card, I went to look for more information on the casino, which is still there. It seems that the casino was every bit as much of a draw as the spa and attracted all sorts of people, including Dostoyevsky, who gambled away everything he owned here in 1865. Rumor has it that both Crime and Punishment and The Gambler were written under duress to cover gambling debts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Waters of Wiesbaden

Since Roman times, the springs in Wiesbaden, Germany have been recognized for their various qualities - as a place to bathe horses, a source for red hair dye, and a restorative tonic. The water may taste like salt and sulfur, but drinking it is reputed to help rheumatoid problems along with a number of other ailments. Kaiser Wilhelm II was a regular visitor here, but Wiesbaden was also frequented by Russian nobility and visitors from throughout Europe.

The buildings surrounding this particular thermal spring (the Kochbrunnen) were designed by architect Wilhelm Bogler in the 1880s. Although they survived World War II, they were torn down in the 1960s.
Here are some additional cards showing the building interior and exterior.

In the photo above, it appears that the man in the foreground on the left moved as the photo was being taken, resulting in a strange ghost image of his face.

Hmm, there's a typo on the front of the last card. Can you find it?

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rudy Goes Fishing

That's right, Rudy's back. If you remember previous posts about Rudy, he went off to fight in World War II and became ill at the end of his service. He had kidney failure and it turned out that he only had one kidney, so he ended up dying not long after he returned. Looking at the picture below and his somewhat puffy face, I have to wonder if that was due to kidney disease.
Here he is while he was still in the army, stationed somewhere in the U.K. The A.P.O. address is always a domestic address, so it's unfortunate that it doesn't give a better indication of exactly where he was.

In case you can't read Rudy's writing, here's what his letter says:

Hello Folks,
Just a few lines and I hope they find you all in the best of health and spirits. I went fishing with my new tackle yesterday and had good luck. I caught two trout, one 14 1/2 inches and one 11 inches. I also got a eel that was at least three feet long. After seeing the fish i caught some of the boys went today fishing but had no luck. It seems I that i am the only one that has any luck at this stream. I ate one trout yesterday nite for my supper. It was great eating. I went to town today and seen a show. I usually get up around noon when I work notes. Got a ticket also to see Bob Hope in person this Sunday. Well I'll say so long all. Thanks for everything. Rudy.

Here's the back of the photo.

For more good fishing, wade on up the stream to Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving cards were very popular at the turn of the century. Many of the old Thanksgiving cards were focused on the hapless turkey. Not many people send cards for the holiday anymore, though people certainly do go to great lengths to share a feast with family and friends. If that's what you're doing, I hope you have a warm and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Le Clou Du Voyage

I hope no unfortunate circumstances like this interfere with your weekend travels plans.

This card was sent to Mr. Jimmie Kearney in Washington D.C. from his sister in Switzerland in 1932.

The message reads:

Le Clou du Voyage - "The Cloud on the Trip" - or in other words - "the fly in the ointment." These babies are having a hard time. they have had a puncture! Today was Palm Sunday + tomorrow we are on Easter vacation. Miss Bahr (?) has to work part of the time tomorrow but we are going riding in the P.M. Wish you were here to go with us Jimmie - we would have such a good time. I will send you a picture of us soon. Hope you and Baby Brother are well + happy - much love from Lalla(?) Palm Sunday March 20

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tram Tuesday - Dresden, Germany

Dresden has a long history as a center for transportation. The first horse-drawn streetcars started transporting passenger in 1872, but electric streetcars were already operating in 1893.  The city, along with the transportation network, was pretty much destroyed during World War II, but today the tram network is alive and well with twelve routes and 200 km of track. Here's a view of Dresden before it was bombed beyond recognition.

Here's an image of the square in 1950 taken by Roger Rössing and Renate Rössing. Note that two of the streetlights remain.

Here's the back of the card.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Go Back to Reston

This card was sent in 1909 with a message that doesn't seem to fit the picture...or does it?

Here's the back of the card, sent to Miss Lillian Smith in Roseburg, Oregon in 1909:

The message reads:
Dear Friend
I have been to church every night I could and I think I have got my sins forgiven very well by this time. I feel like a chritan any way. I don't no how I look. Well I sopose to-morrow will ind your time in Roseburg for a while. Well of course you can do as you can do as you please but I see your finish if you go back to Reston. I will sing off hoping to hear from you soon. Alee P.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things Could Have Been Very Different

As I peruse The Gasoline Automobile, published in 1915, it's clear that things could have taken a different direction. The book starts out by discussing the differences and pros and cons of steam propelled cars, electric cars, and gasoline automobiles. And though the book doesn't mention it, Henry Ford was also looking at the value of biofuels at that time. You have to wonder how different the world would be today if we had chosen a different fuel.

Would my mother have gone on this trip to the American Southwest in the early 60s in a steam-powered car? Maybe not. And the car may not have looked as sexy either.

I'm not a car buff, but I love reading through this book, because it explains the workings of the automobile in a way that's understandable to me. It helps that there aren't any electronics. The illustrations are also wonderful. It's interesting to think that the scarcity of second-growth hickory affected the choice of wheel design.

Motor on over to Sepia Saturday to read more about automobiles and the people transported by them.
By the way, if you want this book, you may be able to find original copies through Alibris or eBay. You can also order a reprint. And, if you want to read it on your computer, you can download it from the Internet Archive for free, courtesy of the California Digital Library.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Greetings from the Seaside

The card and the message are not particularly well matched, but I think that's part of the appeal. The front of the card shows a very British or European looking beach scene.

The front and the back of the card both evoke the joys of summer; they just do it a little differently. Here's the back.
The card was sent to Gilbert Grinley of Warwick, North Dakota in July, 1909. Warwick currently has a population of 65, but back in 1909 the population may have been as high as 300. The message is priceless:

 July 18, 1909

Dear Cousin, How are you getting along? have you killed many gophers this summer? I wish you was here to help me pick strawberries the sloughs are chuck full of them this year. From your cousin Allfred

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Luis Alvarez - continued

Yesterday's card to Senor Don Luis Alvarez was sent from Freiburg, Germany in 1904. Today's card was sent a year later by a different sender from Larche, a lovely little village in the French Alps near the border with Italy. That helps to explain why it is an Italian postcard.

The card shows the Alpini, Italy's mountain troops that were formed in 1872 to protect the mountainous borders with France, Switzerland, and Austro-Hungary.  It was during World War I that the Alpini distinguished themselves, fighting battles on glacial crags and throughout the steep Dolomites. They had to be agile and able to function well at low temperatures and high altitudes. But the adaptable Alpini had also been sent to Tripoli in 1911 to fight in the Italo-Turkish conflict where they battled against Berbers in the sand dunes.

Enough about the amazing Alpini though; let's look at the text. Just as with yesterday's card to Mr. Alvarez, the message is written on the front, because no message was allowed on the address side.  The message, sent on August 8, 1905, reads:

Dear friend,
I received twice three newspapers. Thanks. My regards to all the friends. without______
P. Bulgo (Buljo?)

 Here's the back of the card.

It appears to me that Mr. Alvarez had a post office box (#8). As with yesterday's card, you can see that the sender has specified the route the card should take. I'm not sure if that was just to assist the postman or because the sender preferred that route over others. This card is designated to go via Le Havre and New York to its final destination in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tram Tuesday - Freiburg, Germany

Streetcars are alive and well in Freiburg, Germany, transporting an average of over 200,000 passengers a day. The City also has an extensive pedestrian zone and is considered to be among the 'greenest' cities in the world.

Every now and then I run across a postcard where I get the sense that there's a lot more than meets the eye. This card was sent to Don Luis Alvarez of Chihuahua, Mexico in 1904. Who was Don Luis Alvarez? I don't know for certain, but there is a Luis Alvarez who was a Mexican industrialist and the Mayor of Chihuahua as well as a candidate for President of Mexico in 1958.  Was he related to the postcard's recipient?

The message was written on the front of the card, because in 1904 no messages were allowed on the address side. It is written in Spanish and reads:
October 7, 1904
Dear friend Luis:
Here is the second dozen cards. The maps arrived safely. 
Affectionate Greetings

This is postcard #13,  addressed to Mr. Luis Alvarez. His title includes the word 'Don', which suggests that he was a person of distinction. The title is used a little more broadly today, but was originally reserved for nobility. The card was sent to Alvarez in care of Mr. Ketelson and Mr. Degetan, who were prominent in the mining and banking industries in Chihuahua. For whatever reason, Ketelson and Degetan are listed on the Enemy Trading List of the United States War Trade Board in 1917. The list is described as follows: This is a list of enemies and allies of enemies, and other persons, firms, and corporations, whom there is reasonable cause to believe have acted directly or indirectly , for, on account of, on behalf of, or for the benefit of enemies and allies of enemies.

As with so many other postcards,  I'm sure with a bit more research I could get to the bottom of this.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Lovelights

last month I posted some Lovelights cards. Here are a few more.

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

The message to Miss Ilene Harris of Decatur, Illinois reads:

Garfield, Kans.
May 11. 09
Dear Cousin-
This leaves me well. Am going to leave here tonight for Kingman Ariz. just 1200 miles South west of here. Am going with a car load of stock. It takes about 6 days for the trip will send you a card when I get there.  LM (?)

The second card was sent to Jennie Safarak of Rochester, Minnesota in 1910. The message reads:

Dear Jennie:-
Rec'd your letter and card. We are all very glad mamma came out all right and hope she will be better by this time. Will write a letter later on. Will go out to Farwell next Wed. Love to Mama from us all. Your niece Lottie.
Did you get my letter? We ___often. Very warm, hot rather, aint it?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day and Ghost Towns

I had the best intentions for a Veterans Day post focusing entirely on military and veterans, but I can't help what's written on the back of the card and where it leads. I certainly couldn't ignore the message sent to J.J. in Lucky Boy, Nevada. Actually, it seems very fitting, since today is not only Veterans Day, but also 11/11/11, a date some consider to be very lucky. It's also the 100th week of Sepia Saturday (more on that below.)
Here we have two pre-WWI American officers wearing Army and Navy military uniforms.

The first picture may be a likeness of Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich.

And then there's the back of the first card. First of all, the message is written in French. Secondly, it's addressed to someone in Lucky Boy, Nevada, a place I had never heard of - and it was sent in 1911 from Goldfield, Nevada. One of the reasons I've never heard of Lucky Boy is that it's a ghost town. You can see current photos of it here. There was a lot more action there in 1911 though, after silver was discovered in 1907.  Gold and silver prospectors came from all over the country and from abroad to seek their fortune. Lucky Boy appears to have had a post office, since the card has a Lucky Boy cancellation.

I have trouble deciphering the message, but it was sent to J.J. Cousol from his mother (Julietta?), who reports that Mr. Murphy visited Doty and it was very nice. She also says that there's something in it for the son - something about Horn Silver. Horn Silver, as I just learned, is silver that is formed on the desert surface from weathering silver sulfide. You could come along with no experience and a shovel and easily haul away a fortune. But when the surface silver was gone, that was it. There wasn't more below.

J.J. Cousol's mother was writing from Goldfield, which by then was at the tail end of its Goldrush. At one point Goldfield had been the largest city in Nevada, all due to gold prospectors. Now it is also a ghost town, with many old buildings remaining. The famous brothers, Wyatt and Virgil Earp, came to Goldfield in 1904, and Virgil was hired to be the Goldfield Deputy Sheriff shortly thereafter. Poor Virgil died of pneumonia within six months of taking the position though. By 1911, when this card was sent, the population of Goldfield had declined to about 4,800. Now it has a population of about 440. You can see some great Goldfield photos past and present here.

I can only guess that J.J.'s parents came to Nevada as part of the Goldrush and that when things started to get tough, J.J. ventured out and looked for better prospects in other parts of Nevada. And since we're talking about seeking fortunes, I should point out that the back of the postcard informs us that Senior Rear Admirals earn $8,800 a year when at sea and $8,000 a year when on shore.

Here's the back of the second card.

Apart from my other intentions, I had also in mind to post something separate to celebrate the 100th Sepia Saturday. After I wrote this post, I decided that it was really meant for Sepia Saturday, with a card that takes us back 100 years. Going back 100 years, we are suddenly in a time where people were prospecting for gold and silver, where World War I and World War II had not yet been imagined, and where communication from afar was primarily through the postal service.

For more ways to celebrate the auspicious 100th post, be sure to visit Sepia Saturday.
Thanks to Alan and Kat for dreaming up the idea.


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