Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take the Leap!

Did you notice that we have one extra day this month? Leap year is better news for people who are paid by the hour than for people who are on a monthly salary, so it all depends on your perspective whether you appreciate it or not. Here's a card from some previous leap year, circa 1920.

Initially I was puzzled by this card because I didn't make the connection between leap year and 'taking the leap', i.e. getting married. I can't say I've heard the expression used in conversation. More often it's something about tying the knot or making an honest man/woman out of someone. In the early 1900s there were plenty of humorous postcards that pointed out the perils of marriage and courtship, mostly, though not always, presented from a man's perspective.

This one's a little odd, isn't it?

And this one's pretty unusual too.

Here's the back of that last card, sent in 1909 to Miss Verlene Hall in Sargent, Nebraska. You didn't think the card was that old, did you?

The message reads:

Made good connections in Joe 8:45 there is little difference in weather conditions here and there. The weather is gloomy and so ___ _. ha: he, he!
I am mad at that hello girl because she wouldn't let me say all my say. 

I think 'Hello Girls' were telephone operators.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tram Tuesday - Attleboro, Massachusetts

There was grass growing in the middle of Park Street in Attleboro circa 1907. It was a big wide street with lots of space separating the sidewalk and the streetcar tracks.

It doesn't quite look like that anymore. Here's a more modern view.

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Frank B. Eldredge sent this card to Jose Galavisi in Buenos Aires Argentina in 1907. Frank was a little perturbed. It seems he had sent Jose some American stamps in anticipation of an exchange, but Jose had simply returned the stamps.

The message reads:

Your letter with enclosures received 
am sorry you returned the sheet  of common stamps I hoped you would have sent  me a sheet of common Argentine stamps in return or handed it to someone who would. I should like a list of what you desire in USA stamps and also would ask what catalogue you use for medium of exchange. Upon receipt of list from you I will send you what I wish in Argentine stamps provided your list contains stamps I can furnish.


Giant Peaches

No need to worry about those peaches rolling off the flatcar; note the carefully positioned braces.

Rosella sent this card in 1912 to her sister, Mrs. Ina Clark, in Eureka, California.

The message reads:

Dear sister:-
Mamma received your Birthday postals . We are waiting for you to come home and see us. Uncle Hans'  and Uncle Amos' came up in the automobile on mama's birthday. How is Mrs. Crothers? We are all well and hope you are the same. Best regards from Raymond and all. 
Rosella.    write soon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shoes in the 1880s

I was looking for some old family photographs with shoes for this week's Sepia Saturday and came up empty handed. Nearly every photo seems to cut off the feet and shoes. For all I know they sat for portraits with no shoes on at all. I do have some very nice shoe advertisements from the 1880s though. One of my favorites is the trade card featuring solar tip shoes.

I somehow had this idea that solar tip shoes would be open in the front, allowing the sun to warm your toes. Not so. Instead, they were especially durable tips made by folding the sole leather over the tip of the shoe.

This is one of the few trade cards for shoes that highlights the shoes at all. Many of the advertisements simply showed heartwarming scenes that had nothing to do with shoes, like this one:

And this one:

Many just had their business name printed on stock advertising cards. These could just as well have been ads for a grocery store or watch repair.

So, I had to wonder what the shoes of the 1880s were really like. I know that women's shoes had a high heel and a narrow toe and didn't look comfortable at all. On the other hand, when I went to the Wisconsin Historical Museum's online collection to look at the examples of children's footwear of the era, they not only seem well made, they look soft and comfortable. You can see the shoe collection here.

Step on over to Sepia Saturday to see more posts on shoes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dear Brother Walter...

One of the most popular posts on this blog, for reasons totally unknown to me, is another card sent to Walter Till.  I'm perplexed by its popularity, because I just don't understand it.

Anyway, on to brother Walter.  The birthday card that is viewed so often for unknown reasons, is from 1916. This one is from 1919.

It's a lovely card, but it wouldn't be my first choice for a 9-year-old boy.  The message on the back of the card reads:

Dear Brother Walter
I came near forgetting when your birthday was but dident. here is just a card hoping you have a happy one suppose you will be 9 years old Sun. you want to see how good a boy you can be from now on let Jesus help you
Love from Sister Laura

It started to seem more likely to me, after looking at previous cards, that "brother" was meant in a religious sense, but then I found that Walter actually did have an older sister named Laura. In fact, he had 10 siblings. The 1920 Census shows Walter, the youngest at age 9, living with his siblings, George (11), Edna (13), and Jennie (15) and their mother Julia E. Till. There is no indication of a father in the household, because the father died a few months after Walter's 9th birthday. Walter also had a younger brother who only lived to the age of four.

I looked for more information on and was surprised to find photos of Walter and his siblings. There's our little Walter on the right.

And there's Jennie on the left. Here's a postcard addressed to Jennie.

The message on the back reads:

Dear Jennie: -
Come up and see the School house fore your self. my room is where the X is. I wish you a happy easter. your friend Bertha.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Train Disaster at Wellington

This doesn't look like a train disaster card, does it? It's a perfect example of a relatively plain card with a very poignant message. It hardly matters what's on the front. I was looking for cards to post for St. Patrick's Day when I came upon this one. The news is not very cheerful, so I thought I'd post it on a day other than the holiday.

Grace sent this card from Seattle to Miss Sara Clark in Dexter, New York on March 10, 1910.
The message reads:

Dear friend, - You had all better come west here to live. Although we have had a very bad winter. Suppose you have read of that awful avalanche on the Great Northern. It seems terrible here, for we are so close. They are bringing many of the bodies here. Love to all,

It reminded me of the tragic Washington avalanche this last weekend that killed three skiers at Stevens Pass. The 1910 avalanche was also near Stevens Pass, but was much more severe and much deadlier. It swept away two Northern Pacific trains and claimed the lives of 96 victims. You can read more about the disaster at HistoryLink. You may also want to look at the Wellington Avalanche website.

Afterwards, the small railroad town of Wellington changed its name to Tye (after the Tye river) because of the negative association with the disaster. Tye became a ghost town after the second Cascade tunnel was opened in 1929.

Here's a photo of the aftermath of the avalanche, with blanket-wrapped bodies being prepared for transport. The photo is courtesy of Paul Dorpat, a historian who writes for the Seattle Times Sunday Magazine and has a superb website.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tram Tuesday - Honolulu, Hawaii

Although we don't know the exact date of the postcard, the publisher (Wall, Nichols & Co.) stopped production in 1912, so I suspect the card is from sometime between 1907 and 1912.

The signs on top of the car show Fort Street and Punahou on the front and Kalihi and Waikiki on the back. The initials on the front of the car stand for Hawaii Rapid Transit & Land Company, a company founded in 1898, which developed electric streetcar service in Honolulu. The streetcars ran at 10-minute intervals and helped to popularize Waikiki.

This was not the first streetcar service though. Hawaiian Tramways Limited had previously provided mule-drawn streetcars, starting in the 1880s. By 1942, the streetcar system had been completely replaced by buses.

Most cities the size of Honolulu currently have some sort of streetcar or light rail system. Honolulu doesn't, but it has plans for an elevated transit line, a proposal that has been fiercely debated for years. Honolulu just received approval from the Federal Transit Administration to commence construction, but opponents are suing to stop the project.

Here's the back of the card.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I wish I could tell you more about these cards. Unfortunately, the writing in English doesn't tell me much, and I don't read Korean. If you have some insight, please leave a comment.

The first card shows a pagoda on top of the Keiron. I couldn't seem to find any information on what the Keiron is. There's something very beautiful and mysterious about the card though, so that's why I'm posting it.

Here's a close-up of the people. The variety of hats is particularly interesting.

And here's a picture of a village - but where? I wonder what it looks like now. Is it Yangdong Village? If so, it looks a little different today.

I'd love to be able to wander in for a closer look. Here's a little close-up, showing some people in the village. I'd also love to know more about the building materials. The roofs appear to be straw thatch and the houses may be constructed of mud bricks.

Finally, we have a card showing Prince Li's Palace in Seoul. I don't find anything under Prince Li's Palace either, although there are several palaces in Seoul.

The back of the cards all look like this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Organ Grinder

Tracy from Tracy's Toys sent me this incredible card. She has a great eye and manages to find not only amazing toys, but also some beautiful and unique cards. I feel very fortunate to have this one.
The 1906 advertising card of an organ grinder and his monkey was published by Livermore & Knight Company, a publisher known for their holiday and color advertising cards. It was sent from Detroit to Miss Elenor Croop in Niagara Falls, New York in 1908.

If you pull on the monkey's head, you'll find that you can pull him out. And there's something attached to him, a folded note.

Oh, look, it's an advertisement for sheet music. When was the last time you saw an advertisement for sheet music? This advertisement seems to be directed at retailers. It's a creative approach; I wonder if it worked.

Just so you know what it sounded like, here's a 1909 recording of Harry Macdonough singing Sweetheart Days.

And here's the back of the card, showing the matching design around the stamp box that Livermore & Knight were known for.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. To participate or see what others have posted, click on the picture below.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Your Next Vacation

Once again I am offering my assistance in planning your next vacation. I have selected some lovely motels for you as a starting point. The Motel Troy in Troy, Alabama is nice and it has some cute fake deer out front.

If you'd like to explore the Land of Lincoln, I suggest the Southern View Motel in Springfield, Illinois. I'm not sure what you'll see in that southern view, but there's plenty of parking.

As you head up north from Illinois, you may want to stay at Krueger's Motel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The motel manager, Freddy Krueger, seems very outgoing and energetic.

As you can see by the back of the first card, there are deals to be had. The card wasn't even mailed. I think it was just a note to remind the person what a good deal they got.

Stayed here Wed. nite July 25th 1962. $12 for the 6 of us. Supposed to be a 20 room.

Here are the backs of the other two cards:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Augusta, Georgia

This is how Augusta, Georgia looked in the 1920s.

And here's an aerial view from around the same time. If you look closely, you can see the memorial in the middle of Broad Street.

If you were visiting Augusta back then, you might have stayed at the elegant Bon Air Hotel. The hotel was built in 1899 and burned down in 1921. This card shows the rebuilt structure of 1924. The hotel attracted northerners looking for some sunshine and warmth in the winter months. It was an elegant getaway, attracting famous people such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Winston Churchill.  It was also the place you would go if you were attending the Masters' Golf Tournament, at least in the early days. In 1970, the Bon Air Hotel sued Time Magazine for reporting that the hotel had declined into dishevelment.

Over the years it lost its appeal and became a retirement community. Now it serves as government subsidized apartments for seniors and people with disabilities. 

In 2011, the Augusta Chronicle reported that a young man was shot there in what was believed to be a drug turf dispute. The arrested man also lived in the facility with his mother.

For more old postcard views of Augusta, be sure to look at Picturing Augusta, which features historic postcards from the collection of the East Central Georgia Library.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cupid Gets A Driver's License

Be careful, he's definitely a distracted driver. I wonder what he wore to his driver's test.

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

Oh, look, there's a message to Iris Green of Wayland, New York on this one:

Dear Iris,
will now write you a few lines to day are all sick with the grip hope you are all well it is bitter cold here today anser soon  ____


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