Wednesday, August 29, 2012

René Bine - Kiss the Hand

Today we have another card from René Bine, sent to his sister Marie and parents back in San Francisco in November 1904. I have posted a number of other cards from René during his time studying medicine at the University of Vienna. I tend to focus on the messages written on these cards, but the cards themselves are also beautiful, and often include streetcars, such as the horse-drawn one on this card.

Here's a close-up of the tram with a Kodak advertisement on the back and a sign for a Zahnarzt (dentist) office on the corner.

The message on this card is a continuation from a previous card that I don't seem to have, although I do have a few others that express frustration with the cultural differences and bureaucracy in Vienna. This one, in which René recounts the comments of Professor Alois Monti, is particularly interesting though!

Every man of sense here laughs at their nonsensical customs. But the people, per se, are sensible. When a big chief comes in hospital, e.g. kids salute him by "Kiss the hand". When he leaves ditto. When sick kid is brought into clinic they do the act and as Professor Monti, one of the greatest kid specialists here says, "they spit the influenza bug, or slobber the germs of diphtheria on your hand + you rub them into your mustache the next minute!

But in spite of all Vienna peculiarities, for us it has its charms which we enjoy; its peculiarities make us fat from laughing at them, so thy too have their good features, you see.

Work continues as usual to be more than interesting and we manage to keep busy, though next month we intend to slacken our pace, to get at least 1 hour a day to read up things. Otherwise no news. regards to all the folks, 
kisses to you all,
Your loving brother and son,

Here's the back of the card.

If you're interested in reading more of René Bine's correspondence, go to the bottom of the webpage and click on the tag for Dr. René Bine.


  1. I wonder the family didn't send him some writing paper and extra money to cover the postage. I find it somewhat 'jarring' that he uses the word 'kid' instead of child even back then.

  2. A fabulous card. I do rather like the idea of these early cards where the image and the writing almost merged together rather than being rigidly segregated like they later were. Perhaps we need to re-introduce the idea.

  3. He actually wrote over the buildings on this one, that is unusual as he typically sticks to the open space- I wish he had just written across the buildings over the horizontal cornice lines, as if they were lines on paper, that would have been very 'site specific'.

  4. I am surprised with all the hand kissing. I would have thought that that is a more eastern custom.

  5. I wouldn't want sick kids slobbering on me anywhere, but I guess hands are better than cheeks.



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