LIFE RECORDED ON POST CARDS

LIFE RECORDED ON POST CARDS

Technology spoiled us. Now, we pick up a phone – maybe. A quick text or email is even faster and easier. Letter writing? Ha! It’s a long lost art going quickly by the wayside.

Quick and easy. But a hundred years from now, will any remnants of these communications exist to shed light on the lives we once lived?

Post cards were once a popular communication method, quicker than letters, and fairly easy to post. It was early-day texting – a quick message without taking the time to write a longer letter. With no telephones on the scene yet, people flocked to this ‘new’ way to send messages.

At the end of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, the U.S. Post Office records that 677,777,798 postcards were mailed. This was when the total United States population was only 88,700,000 people. That’s a lot of post cards!

Post card collecting, or deltiology, is considered to be one of the three largest collectible hobbies in the world. Coins and stamps are the other two collectibles ranking in the top three.

History can be traced from the postcards that still exist from over a hundred years ago. The photographs on the fronts of the cards record the tracks of time with real photographs and art images of people, locations, buildings, holidays and more.

The first cards were private postal cards, developed and copyrighted by John P. Charlton in 1861. They were available until 1873 when government postcards appeared. The Unites States Postal Service was the only entity allowed to print cards until May 19, 1898, when Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act that allowed private firms to produce cards, printed ‘Private Mailing Card’.

Photograph post cards became popular around 1900. Postcards at this time were ‘Undivided Back’ cards. They didn’t have the line dividing the back of the card into two sides. Writing wasn’t permitted, by law, on the address side of the card yet. Any messages had to be written across the front over the photographs or artwork. December 24, 1901, new regulations allowed cards to be printed as ‘Post Card’ or ‘Postcard’, instead of ‘Private Mailing Card’.

Beginning March 1, 1907 revised regulations, following Europe’s lead, allowed divided backs, leaving room on the right for the address, and a space on the left for the message. The use of postcards proliferated with this new change.

PC1-frontPauline Washburn, of Los Angeles and later Glendora, California, loved sending postcards. When I knew Pauline, growing up next door to her in the 60’s, she was well past her younger postcard mailing days. After her death, I received many mementos, including some of her pictures and postcards. She’d mailed the postcards to Arlie Shinkle in the early 1900’s. Relative or friend? I’m not certain. But I do enjoy looking through these periodically, seeing a slice of Pauline’s life from a hundred years ago.

Telegraph Post Card. Sent June 27, 1907:

(The divided back cards became legal in March of this year, but she used a card in the earlier undivided back style.) “I am planning on coming out week after next. May right this week. Lots of love, Pauline”

PC2 frontEast Side Square, Bloomington, Ill. Sent March 10, 1908:

“Dear Arlie: Have you any of those penny pictures of Fern and I that we had taken last summer? If you have that one of me by myself laughing and the one of Fern and I to-gether will you send them to me? I need them right away and I haven’t any left and Fern hasn’t either. I am going to have some more taken soon and will send you some. Will explain why I wanted them next time I write. If you have them please send by return mail. All well. Love from Pauline”

PC3 front

Bathing Scene at Long Beach, CA. Sent August 7, 1911:

Dear girlie – I really am going to write you a letter some day soon. We are all well and the weather is perfect. Bernice went down to the beach to-day with her fellow on his motorcycle and I and my friend went out to see Les play ball and we are going to a show tonight. Hazel is in Riverside on her vacation. I am so sorry about Jake Storey. Lots of love, Pauline.” Written on the side: See if you can find me in this bunch.

PC4 frontAvalon, Santa Catalina Island. Sent October 9, 1912:

“Dear Arlie: Yes, I got your letter but have been too busy to write. We have been moving but are all settled now. Have a dandy flat, 4 rooms, bath and a big sleeping porch. We can hardly wait until Aunt Ett gets here. Read tonight that Carl has gone to Turners and that Ruth is sick. Is it all off between R & C? The weather is love here. I had a letter from Elmer Ellis not long ago. Wish you could come out this winter. Why don’t you? Love to all. Pauline     539 ½ S. Flower”

Pauline is gone, not to walk this earth again in human form. But fragments of her life remain in postcards over a hundred years later, reminding us of the young lady she once was.

PC4 BackWhat pieces of your life will you leave your descendants? Why not drop a loved one a postcard today? You never know what this may mean to the people in the future.

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Patsy’s Cookie Jar

Patsy’s Cookie Jar

poodle cookie jar“How about his nice pretty poodle?”

“No! Choo-choo!”

“But look at this pretty pink poodle. Don’t you like this one?” Patsy’s mother asked again.

“Choo-choo!” Patsy was insistent. She couldn’t speak many words yet. But she knew ‘no’ and she knew ‘choo-choo’. And she wanted the choo-choo train cookie jar.

Mae tried again. “This one is a doggy. You like doggies.”

“Choo-choo!” Patsy had a one track mind and couldn’t be swayed. It wouldn’t be the last time she wouldn’t change her position on a subject.

“But, trains are for boys. You’re a little girl, the first grandbaby, don’t you want a nice girly one?”

The lady behind the counter suppressed a smile. She’d heard many a family dispute as a clerk at the S & H green stamp store. If it wasn’t mothers and children, it was husband and wife, arguing over which item to redeem when there weren’t enough stamps to get all the coveted treasures.

choochoo on desk“Let her get the train,” Bea interrupted the mother-daughter dispute. “If that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get.” This wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time that Bea, in the role of Grandma Jones, would cater to a grandchild’s wishes. Patsy may be the first and the only one on the scene now, but many more would follow over the years, and grandchildren – especially as babies – always held a special place in her heart.

The choo-choo train cookie jar held a place of honor on top of the refrigerator in the Cline house. Even if it wasn’t the pretty pink poodle her mama preferred.

Patsy’s dad, Luther, was a cookie lover extraordinaire. Mae, being the good compliant wife as most were in the fifties and sixties, was good at keeping the cookie jar supplied with cookies. Patsy learned early on what it meant when mama asked daddy if he wanted a “c-o-o-k-i-e”. And she ran as fast as her tiny toddler legs would totter over to the refrigerator in line for a cookie.

You’d think that would be the end of the story. Cookie jars seem to have short lives, especially around the young fumbling hands of tiny ones.

But this one lived on.

It was packed and moved with the family to Toledo, Ohio, where the family nibbled cookies from the jar as they watched man’s first step on the moon.

A year later it was in return move back to California. Now it sat on a refrigerator in Rowland Heights this time, not too many miles from its original Glendora home. By now Patsy was a young teenager, out playing with friends in the neighborhood or sitting in her room talking girl talk with her best friend, Connie. She didn’t give the treasured cookie jar a second look anymore. It was just one of those things that was ‘just there’, as childhood mementoes usually are, relegated to a second place status.

Shortly before Patsy turned fifteen, another move had the family relocated to Arkansas. Yes, the beloved cookie jar was still traveling with the family. This move was in a homemade moving van instead of a company sponsored commercial moving van. It was functional and it worked. Except that the leak in the roof wouldn’t be discovered until a month later, when the family found a property to move onto. Many household items and belongings were ruined – wet, moldy and beyond repair. But the cookie jar, being a nice ceramic finish, was untouched and still in perfect condition.

The moves that followed are almost uncountable. Back to California. Many different places in California, too many to keep track of. By now, Patsy was a young woman. As most young women tend to do, thinking they’re so grown up, she moved out on her own. She got married. She had children. Along the line the cookie jar was passed on to her and it followed her on her many, uncountable moves.

By now the cookie jar didn’t hold cookies. Even with Patsy’s two young boys in the house. She’d graduated to Tupperware for holding cookies. But the treasured cookie jar still sat in its place of honor on top of the refrigerator – cookies or not.

The cherished cookie jar, now a little more worn in spots, followed Patsy to Arizona for a year, and then on to Texas, where it’s spent the last six years of its 55 year life. Now it doesn’t grace the top of a refrigerator. It sits in an honored position on top of a very high shelf in the living room – a shelf high enough that the many cats can’t reach.

The pendulum has swung the other direction. From being a child’s prized possession, through the teenage and young adult years where it was barely acknowledged, it now is back in the esteemed role of “a very favorite childhood gem.”

**************

Sierra Vista Ceramics was established by Reinhold Lenaberg, who ran the business along with his sons, William and Leonard. The business was on Fair Oaks, cross street Washington, in Pasadena, California. They produced gift ware, kitchenware, and cookie jars from 1942 to the late 1950’s. Many cookie jars, including the pink poodle and the choo choo train, still exist today.

choochoo underneath

IOWA’S FARMER’S DOTTER

IOWA’S FARMER’S DOTTER

It’s Iowa. Iowa is full of farmer’s daughters. But there’s only one Farmer’s Dotter.

No. It’s not a typo. And you won’t find any farmer’s daughters jokes here.

Brenda Weed, proprietor of Farmer’s Dotter, is the daughter of an Iowa farmer. But her business is nothing to joke about.

Farmers Dotter_retreat roomTwo miles west of Bedford, sits a ten acre farm surrounded by corn fields, gardens and lush greenery. In the midst of this patch of nature, Brenda’s home is filled to the brim with quilts of all manners. Completed quilts, new quilts, vintage quilts, feed sack quilts, and supplies that could have a person quilting until infinity it seems.

With room available in her home, and the quilting knowledge acquired over 35 years, Brenda opened Farmer’s Dotter, as a quilting retreat about five or six years ago. A large sewing room provides plenty of working space and two guest rooms filled with an abundance of quilts, has sleeping space for up to nine women. Two days and nights filled with stitching, comradery and good food in an atmosphere dedicated to quilts.

When women aren’t coming to Bedford to spend a weekend with their quilting friends, Brenda travels to them. Five different trunk shows showcase the treasures she’s accumulated over the years, as she shares her quilting knowledge with the crowd. She speaks on: Feed Sacks & Recycling, May the Peace (Piece) of Christ be With You, Antique Quilts, Decorating Seasonally, and Baby – Baby (doll size, baby and table toppers).

Brenda’s favorite quilts are those that are vintage quilts and those that look old fashioned. She loves to hand quilt in an orange peel pattern. Feed sacks that she’s gathered, from estate sales and auctions at home and in her travels, fill every nook and cranny not filled with quilts.

feed sacksThere are feed sacks like this California girl has never seen in her life! When I had the pleasure of staying at Farmer’s Dotter for three nights, I purchased two of her feed sack kits to bring home and savor. Meant to create a small wall-hanging with the vintage squares of feed sack, I’ve used mine for several other smaller craft projects. The other squares, I just pull out and spread out on my desk, enjoying the colors and prints of these fabrics from so long ago.

Goods such as food staples, grain, seed and animal feed were packed in fabric bags since the mid 1800’s. They were initially made of canvas, then as mills began weaving inexpensive cotton, suppliers began using it.

Recycling is not new. Thrifty women, in a time where nothing was wasted, began using these cotton sacks for other uses. Dishcloths, clothing – including underwear, nightgowns and diapers are just a few of the items created from this available fabric.

Around 1925, sacks started to be made from gingham fabric. By around 1930, manufacturers were using a wide variety of prints in their feed sacks. Competition got tougher as companies discovered that women were influencing which products were purchased based on the fabrics the bags were made of. It took three sacks of the same print to make one dress. After many years of the sack sizes being of varied sizes, in 1937, President Roosevelt standardized the size of feed sacks. A 50 pound feed sack was 34 x 38 inches. A 100 pound feed sack was 39 x 46 inches.

New technologies available in the mid 1940’s provided a means to package commodities in sanitary paper packaging for only a third of the cost of the cotton feed sack bags. Feed sacks became scarcer and was rarely used as we entered the 1950’s. An era had come to an end.

Until now, for those of us that enjoy and appreciate the nostalgic ‘good ‘ole days’. We relish these pieces from the past, the colors, the patterns, the pieces of history we hold in our hands.

And then, there’s the Farmer’s Dotter, where these sacks from so long ago are reinvented into beautiful objects to treasure and enjoy.

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

PETTICOATS IN BATTLE

We had it. Then we lost it. And we didn’t get it back for over a hundred years.

Women’s right to vote.

BBD_Women votingI was amazed to learn that woman had the right to vote when our country was first founded. According to a ‘Timeline of Women’s Suffrage in the United States’, in 1776 Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, asking him to “remember the ladies” in the new code of laws. Her husband, who would become Vice President to George Washington in 1789 and President in 1797, replied that the men would fight the “despotism of the petticoat.”

Women began losing the right to vote in one state after another. New York started the trend in 1777, followed by Massachusetts in 1780 and New Hampshire in 1784. In 1787 the US Constitutional Convention gave states the authority to mandate voting qualifications. Women in all states, except for New Jersey, lost the right to vote.

New Jersey held out, allowing “he or she” to vote, as long as they possessed at least 50 pounds in cash or property. Until they too caved in 1807 when they became the last state to revoke our rights to vote.

It would be another 50 years before the ‘petticoats’ started uniting and began speaking out for equality.

In July 1848, Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock and Elizabeth Cady Stanton hosted the Seneca Falls Convention in New York. Over 300 guests attended, including Frederick Douglass, who spoke in favor of women’s suffrage.

A National Women’s Rights Convention was organized in 1850. This convention was held annually until the Civil War when women put aside suffrage activities to help in the war effort.

Following the Civil War, black men were given the right to vote when the Fourteenth amendment was ratified. Women petitioned to be included. They were turned down. In New Jersey, the state that held out the longest before denying women the right to vote, 172 women attempted to vote. They ballots were ignored.

The years that follow were filled with strife, not only between women and ‘the powers that be’, but often with differences amongst the women themselves. Although what the women were fighting for was a common cause, sometimes they had different methods in mind of how their cause should be promoted and advanced.

BBD_women voting 2Women marched.

Petitions were gathered.

Women protested. Women were jailed. Women were fined.

In January 1917, the National Women’s Party posted silent “Sentinels of Liberty” at the White House. In June, the arrests began. Nearly 500 women were arrested. 168 served jail time. Some were brutalized by their jailers.

These were not the only women placed behind bars while attempting to work towards the cause of equality.

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, the Grimke sisters, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lucy Stone, Carrie Chapman Catt, Harriet Stanton Blatch, Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, Sojourner Truth, Amelia Himes Walker … and thousands of other unnamed women.

They were finally successful. After years of protest and opposition, President Wilson finally changed his position in 1918 to advocate women’s suffrage. The following year Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote.

These women from the past championed a cause, not only for equality for themselves, but for women nationwide. They marched, they battled, and they went to war for something that I take for granted in my own life.

When I walk up to the ballot box next week, I will give thanks to these women from the past, the ones that paved the way and gave me a right that many of us don’t even exercise. Thank you ladies!

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com