Postcard Madness

Holy Cow! Did we ever harvest a bumper crop of random postcards over the weekend. Our source for these nuggets of obscurity is moving and with prices marked down to a third of normal, we loaded up for weeks to come. If you're alarmed about our collectors' obsession with this hobby, well, so are we. But were having fun with postcarding and hope you are as well.

It's cards like this one that amuse us to no end. Sent to Kirk and Lance of New Bremen, Ohio, the message reads: This is a clown on water ski's at Cypress Gardens. Disney World was great. We'll be home by Wednesday, July 25. Your friend, Jeff. Our imagination runs wild and to us, this image conjures up John Wayne Gacy impressing his friends with his deft barefooting skills on a summer day at the lake. Maybe that's why we get such a kick from looking at these things.

We found another lost gem, a companion to an earlier card of the Catacombs at Cappuccini. It's remarkable, simply because you don't see this kind of stuff anywhere else but postcards. That the catacombs were destroyed during World War II Allied bombing raids makes it all the more unique. Now we can only imagine what it was like to visit a tomb where thousands of skeletons look like macabre mannequins at some hellish JC Penney's. No doubt the people in this picture never envisioned their remains would someday be immortalized in a postcard dated 1906 or a blog dated 2008. Which brings about this existential question: so how will we be remembered five hundred years from now? A deep thought for you to ponder as you go about your frenzied existence.

Some postcards are momentos of disappearing Americana. Like this shot of Ronald Reagan in front of the Frontier Hotel in Vegas. Here we see the Gipper, wearing an apron with asking Jas vils Du Haben? above a Pabst Blue Ribbon emblem (We're assuming the English translation is What are you having? and not something like Want to drink cheap American skunk water? Herr Joel- help us out on this).

A search of biographical data revealed this shot was taken in February, 1954, when Reagan was an unemployed actor and took a short-term job at the Last Frontier as an emcee for a nightclub act called The Continentals. Coincidentally, the Last Frontier was the first Vegas venue to book Elvis Presley (1956) and the last place Diana Ross played with The Supremes (1970). In November of 2007, the Frontier casino was demolished to make way for a new casino. An obvious parallel can be made to the Catacombs of Cappuccini postcard: both places are forever gone, but a moment in time captured a long time ago lives forever.

This card of an Army ferry transporting a truck across the Big Piney River at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, was sent by Private Floyd S. Wood to Mr. Vandenberg at Eaton Manufacturing in Battle Creek, MI, on September 17, 1944: Hello. Just a line to let you know where I am what I am doing. The combat engineers boy do they work you hard. If anybody cares to write I will be glad to answer. Thanks for everything. Woody. Thank you, Woody, for your service to your country and we hope you enjoyed building Allied bridges and dynamiting Axis bridges during the waning days of WW II.

This card from the customer-void Shrimp Box restaurant in Pensacola, FL, was sent on January 7, 1955, to Wesley in Harrisburg, PA. The message was typed: Dearest Wesley. Here's another card for your collection. Hope you had a nice Christmas. Guess what we sent didn't amount to much as we've had no thanks from you or your mother. We are well and had a wonderful Christmas even though our new television did not arrive. Love, Grnadma Hollowell. Thanks to the power of the internet, we were successful in locating the recipient and had a nice conversation. The card is in the mail to him and we hope to report back with more on it's history during a later posting.

Our last card today is the Overland Limited Crossing the Great Salt Lake at Sunset. What a scene to behold. We suspect this picture was taken immediately after one of the 928 nuclear weapon tests conducted between 1951 and 1992 in neighboring Nevada. Western sunsets are always picturesque but when you add a one-kiloton warhead, well, then they become spectacular.

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