Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Other Lives, Another Time

I thought you might like to take a look at a few of the old postcards I picked up the other day at Greenwich Market. I love old postcards because they're usually pretty inexpensive, and the ones that have been sent often tell a story, or at least a small fragment of a story. These were £1 each!

July 1950: "Dear Rosemary, Just a line letting you know we are still going along OK. Having a run around Eastbourne today but weather very squally. Love to all, Mum & Dad."

(Sounds pretty miserable! Mailed from Eastbourne to Laindon, Essex. Dave and I made a quick jaunt to Eastbourne ourselves just a few years ago.)

May 22, 1907: "My Dear Sarah, Ethel and I got home quite safe about 11:30. Oh dear, we had a slow journey. It took us two hours to come from Hudd. to Brad. It was awful stopping between every station. My brother met us. They thought we were going to stay a bit longer, if we had not come by that train they would have given us up. I hope you had a pleasant day at Hope. Bank. Ethel will write letter. Annie"

(Huddersfield to Bradford is 15 miles by car, according to Google, and apparently today's most direct trains take a little more than half an hour. The card was mailed from Silsden, not far from the town of Ilkley, the location of the pictured church -- both are north of Bradford nearer what is now the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I have no idea what "Hope. Bank." could be.)

Sept. 25, 1973: "Just missed seeing you go by a second -- you were just getting into the taxi. Do hope you have enjoyed your holiday and that the weather has been better than it is here. Comfortable in hotel and glad to get away from things. Love from us both, Mary and Douglas."

(Mailed from Bournemouth to Brighton. The pictured pub still exists, outside the village of Hinton between those two cities.)

Aug. 9, 1966: "We are having a nice time. Weather has been lovely. Hope you have a nice holiday. See you when you come home. Lots of love, Mary"

(That Mary -- so wild and witty! Mailed from Castle Douglas, not far from Dumfries, to Pinwherry, a village in Ayreshire, Scotland. It also bears a stamp dated 1977 from the "Postcards and Postmarks Library" in Skegness, where it apparently wound up at some point.)


  1. Thanks for these cards Steve. It's like secretly peering through windows into other people's lives. Where are they now I wonder?

  2. It's interesting to see how different people wrote and spoke just a few years ago.
    I have letters that Tom and I wrote to each other in the 60's when he was working away and reading them now they seem so stiff and straight.
    I like the expression squally, not a word used much now.

  3. That was fun, and thanks for the narrative.

  4. so now that you have them, what do you do with them?

  5. Theer are not many postcards sent today , although my daughter sends me post cards. She was in Austria in June. The post card always gets here long after she is home.

  6. I can see why these appeal to you. They really are fun little glimpses into the past. I have a stack of them that belonged to my grandmother. I need to find those and read them again.
    This reminds me of that artist I posted about a few months ago. The one that found the box of slides and one women in the photos became his muse.

  7. They would make such an interesting and readable book, wouldn't they- civil, and thoughtful. Sarah took me to Skegness, having heard that it was magnificent at one time, probably the time of your post cards. A most surreal adventure into sad,sorry and soiled. We did not stay long...maybe twenty minutes.
    Your collecting post cards is great. They really take up no space at all and are fascinating.

  8. I enjoy looking at pictures from the past. They are moments frozen in time. I often think of what happened after the shots were taken, picturing the people moving on with their lives, and wondering where they are now and what they are doing. The messages on your postcards have a similar quality.

  9. P. S. In answer to your question on the butterfly bush, yes I cut it back both winters. It wasn't as healthy the second year as the first, and this (the third) year only a small part of it came back. I have a black thumb, what can I say :)

  10. My friend Lis has amassed a beautiful collection of old postcards and she uses some of them in her artwork and her cards. She is a serious collector. But I think that just finding old cards that appeal to us, that call to us somehow, is a very rewarding thing too. The lives that were lived and the short messages which someone used to convey an emotion or the essence of a trip- little life haikus, in a way.

  11. YP: I wonder too. I suspect many have already gone to the great beyond -- certainly Annie, Sarah and Ethel. Whenever I see these postcards in flea markets I think they probably came from the estates of people who have died.

    Briony: Squally is a good word, isn't it? And yes, it's interesting to see the writing styles change.

    Colette: You are welcome! It makes me feel like I spent that £4 well.

    Ellen: I keep them in a photo file box. And I do look at them from time to time.

    Red: Yeah, I almost never get postcards these days. (Or send them, for that matter.) I did get a couple from my stepmother within the past few weeks.

    Sharon: Yes! There's a lot of inspiration to be found in relics of other lives!

    Linda Sue: Yeah, they're so compact and easily stored -- and as I said, inexpensive. Good value for money! I don't even know where Skegness is.

    Jenny-O: Yeah, I wonder about people in the background in postcard photos. Who are they? Do they know they're on a postcard? Like those people around the pub. Your butterfly bush is a mystery!

    Ms Moon: YES! They ARE like haikus! I love that comparison. Concise little messages that just give a glimpse of the past.

  12. So intriguing to imagine the lives behind the words on those postcards. I'm especially taken with the one saying they just missed seeing someone off by seconds, saw them getting into the taxi. For some reason my mind invented a full blown story around those few words! You have interesting hobbies.