Thursday, June 21, 2012

Asbestos Letter

Oh, the mystery! Miss Gillita Workman traveled to Europe, where she received postcards care of various pensions and care of Cook and Sons. At home she received cards care of Bullocks, where she worked in the Book Department. Perhaps she had no fixed address. As far as I can tell she never married. The 1930 Census lists her as a boarder at an address in Glendale, California, with an occupation of saleslady in a bookshop.

The front of the card shows a very nice view of Spokane, Washington with building signs and streetcars.
The back of the card, sent in 1920, has a message from Honore Rusner (?) that reads:

Dear Workie
Have oodles to tell you, but must put it in an asbestos letter - when I can.
My address is 
2105 W. Pacific
however and I am
the same.
Honore Rusner

Note: Although I assumed that 'asbestos letter' referred to something to be kept secret, WJY commented below that it is actually archaic slang for a sexually-themed love letter. Presumably asbestos could contain the fire within. WJY also suggests that this may have been a lesbian relationship. The handwriting does look feminine, and although Honoré can be either a man's or a woman's name, it is more often masculine.

Although I have a few postcards addressed to Gillita, I don't have the asbestos letter.


  1. How interesting, look forward to seeing more of her postcards.

  2. I am wondering what she meant by "asbestos letter."

  3. I'm guessing 'asbestos'- which was used for some fireproofing/heat insulation- suggests that the mailing needed to be a secure/private letter format, not an open post card, since the content was 'hot'.

  4. Oh to get our hands on that letter!!!!

  5. I was also wondering what an asbestos letter was.

  6. "Asbestos letter" is archaic slang for a sexually theamed love letter, because it contained the fire. But was Honore a man or a woman? The hand writting and wording suggests, at least to me, a woman. If Gillita was a Lesbian, that would explain why she never got married.



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