One of the attractions I find in collecting postcards and photos is learning about the past. I’ll pick up a postcard, and something will intrigue me. What are those people doing? Or thinking? What is the location this postcard is from? What is the backstory — what prompted them to go to the trouble to take this picture? A birthday party? Wedding? Funeral? Bridge Dedication? Harvest time? Boredom? A sudden attack of silliness? I think I’ve seen cards with all of these motives depicted.
But another fun aspect to postcards and photos is the message on the back. I’m amazed by the amount of postcards from the turn of the last century which read, “I’ll be home for dinner.” The writer was expecting the card to be delivered within a matter of hours!
Today’s post features a photo and two postcards with messages that have aroused my curiosity.
The first is a small photo of a lady sitting in a library reading a book. Photo is approx 2-1/2″ x 4-1/4″, and probably from the 1920′s-1930′s.
The message on the back:
“No. 1 LIBRARY-PARLOR-OFFICE-AND FRONT ROOM, all in one. See the lazy thing. Notice the candlesticks. Nathan found them and polished them up the day the Bishop was in town. The Diploma on the left is Madison Normal, top High School. Right is my B.Sc. Degree. Also Uncle Nat’s picture.”
So, the “lazy thing” is actually a scholar. Madison Normal became Dakota State, both institutions were focused on training teachers. Could this lady be a teacher at the College? It is fascinating to think of a woman in those times with such achievements, and even more so if she was indeed a higher education teacher herself!
“Each of us, wish each of you, a Happy Easter, 1915.
This is a real photo postcard. I love the contrast between the sour faces on the front — especially the milk-curdler on the right — and the sweet, warm greeting on the back!
Here is the message on the back of a 1908 real photo postcard of a house:
“This is where Clarence’s trials & tribulations began. The light showing through is the kitchen window. Your sister was too dirty to be seen. Please note how nicely the grass is cut. Yours, J.”
Reading something like this just poses unanswerable questions. What were Clarence’s trials and tribulations? Illness or police investigation? There’s a light showing through the window? The grass is nicely cut? I find it pretty hard to tell if there is a light on or that the grass is nicely cut from this primitive photo. But, the topper, of course, is “your sister was too dirty”– could it she got “too dirty” from lighting the kitchen lamp, cutting the grass –or perhaps from working in a coal mine????
It doesn’t look like you will find the answers to life’s big questions on the back of a postcard — just an intriguing pastime!