Saturday, June 6, 2020

Greeting Cards, from Batik to Toonces

While going through my old paperwork, as I mentioned earlier this week, I came across a bunch of old greeting cards from across the years. I must admit I don't usually save cards -- and I rarely get them nowadays, since everyone's on e-mail and Facebook. But I kept a stack of favorites, and here are a few.

First of all, this card with a batik fabric face is one I wrote to my mom and brother on Oct. 6, 1994, from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in West Africa. I was traveling with some friends at the time. In the card I complained about West African food ("really boring...there are almost no vegetables -- I feel like I eat rice and meat sauce all the time") but was enthusiastic about the Africans and their polite, relaxed society. Ouagadougou, I reported, "is a modern metropolis!" In fact, I wrote, "today I'm in a patisserie drinking cranberry (or something like it) juice and eating a croissant."

My friend Liz sent me this card, which she bought in Zimbabwe, in November, 1994. The "nervous cat" design is by Matthew Pinker. Little did I know then that Liz and I would travel to Zimbabwe together 12 years later!

I mailed this card to my stepmother from Morocco in February 1994. The design is supposedly a miniature from Samarkand in the 1500s, depicting ducks.

The woman who took care of me and my brother after school in the '70s, Mrs. Kirkland, gave me this card in 1976. She was like my surrogate grandmother, and she first got me into plants and gardening.

My friends Barbara and John gave me this card in 1985, when I rented my first apartment. It's VERY '80s, isn't it? They bought it at University Square Mall in Tampa, and then had random people who worked in various mall shops (Sears, Spencer's, Burdines, Robinson's, McCrory's) sign it.

Inside message: "We are not amused."

This one's from my friend Kevin, for my 29th birthday in 1995 -- we've kept up a running gag about Queen Victoria for decades. According to the back of the card, the model is someone named "Brace Briskit," with casting by "Studmuffin & Assoc."

My friend Juliet sent me this great card in 2004. The art is by José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), reportedly "Mexico's most illustrious graphic artist," well known for his drawings and engravings of skeletons.

Obviously, this card wasn't sent to me! In fact it was my mom's, from her parents and brother when she graduated high school in the mid-'50s. As she was cleaning things out to move from our family home in 2015, she threw it away. I salvaged it from the trash can.

When I worked as a reporter in Polk County, Florida, in the late '80s and early '90s, I did a couple of articles involving a woman who kept a horse farm. Whenever she mailed me something, she decorated her envelopes so beautifully that I couldn't throw them out! It's not really a greeting card, but it may as well be.

And finally...does anyone remember "Toonces, the Driving Cat"? This was a recurring Saturday Night Live skit in the late '80s and early '90s, in which a cat drives a car and of course...

...things inevitably go horribly awry. I was a huge Toonces fan, so my friends Karl and Paul gave me this card. When it opens, the tab with the car extends out to the right, sending it sailing into space!


  1. Thank you, this was a joyful post - Toonces, YES! Totally forgot about him , hahaha, just great! Wonderful bunch of cards you have there, love Felix the nervous cat, and your Mom's graduation card. So glad you rescued it! I have kept very few cards and now I regret tossing them out. Your post has made me happy and sad all at once.

  2. Who was that girl on the back of your "chopper" bicycle on your 10th birthday card? She looks very happy. Where were you going that day? Nice shirt by the way!

  3. I used to love Toonces. So completely silly and I always laughed.
    You are a saver of memories, Steve. It still blows my mind that you lived in Winter Haven.

  4. That's a great collection of cards. I bet it was fun going through all of these.

  5. This is a very different post for you. Interesting collection you shared.

  6. I would have saved this, too. And I'd still frame a few!

  7. You have an awesome card collection. Your Mom must be my age. I graduated high school June 6, 1957. That envelope was very creative. I enjoyed this post. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  8. We should all have a box full of cards and memories. I have a few, I wish I had kept more. When my grandfather died, my grandmother opened the drawer in his night stand for the first time in over 50 years. There was every letter my father wrote home, when he was in the Army late in World War II. When my mother cleaned out my grandmother's house, she tossed them all away. Oh what I would give to have those.

  9. What a fantastic collection of cards you have there. I have save cards too over the years. Unfortunately once many years ago when I was married to my first husband and we were moving for one of his jobs for the millionth time, he grabbed the box of my card collection and added it to the boxes of other stuff headed for the dump. I never saw my old collection of cards and letters again. It is wonderful that you still have yours to look back on, a true treasure.

  10. I love all of your cards! That Queen Victoria one reminds me of the comic, The New Adventures of Old Queen Victoria (or something like that). I wonder if it’s still out there somewhere? I shall have to go check!

  11. WOW Steve what a great collection. I would put them in a album because they must hold so many memories. With your permission I would love to make some scrap pages for you. I would send them to you privately to keep or discard.
    I don't have a favorite because they are all gorgeous.
    This is such a wonderful post filled with fun and light...
    Have a wonderful day... xxx

  12. Your cards are all attractive and collection-worthy. I love looking at old cards I have kept. Decluttering gurus want us to take pictures of everything and throw the originals away, but I get a different feel from the items themselves. As long as we are somewhat choosy I don't see the problem.

    I never heard of Toonces; will have to look on YouTube and see if there are any videos!

  13. Aaaaand, yes, of course there is video. It's like a forerunner of the lolcats!!

  14. You have alllll these cards! You are like my mother in a touching way: when we went through her things we found literally every card she had ever been given, kept and cared.

  15. What an eclectic collection. My favourite is the very graceful mother and child representation from Ouagadougou.
    And another good save, your mother's graduation card. It speaks directly of those days - look at that orchid spray. And now it is bound to be a family heirloom.
    I lost my original comment and in my irritation was tempted to say:
    "Good saves mate" and you could make what you like of that - lol.

  16. Linda Sue: Nostalgia does that, doesn't it? We all need more Toonces in our lives. :)

    YP: Just some chick I picked up along the way.

    Ms Moon: I always laughed at Toonces, too! So ridiculous!

    Sharon: It was fun. I was glad I saved them.

    Red: Thanks!

    Mitchell: Well, my way of framing them is putting them on the blog. :)

    Edna: My mom graduated in 1955, I believe. Or maybe '54. So pretty close!

    Travel: Oh no! Such a shame! My mom threw out a suitcase full of family letters, too. Fortunately I'd been through them and extracted some quotes (which I put in a blog post at some point). I guess we can't save everything, but those wartime letters would have been especially nice to keep.

    Robin: Ugh! That would have really upset me! I don't have a whole box of letters -- just two stacks. They're been pretty thoroughly weeded out by now.

    Catalyst: Thanks!

    Bug: I don't know that comic! LOL -- sounds like a pretty funny concept.

    Beth: You are certainly free to use those card images in whatever way you wish! Thanks for offering to make me pages! You're so kind.

    Jenny-O: I linked to the first "Toonces" skit in my post. You're right, it's a pre-Internet LOLcats!

    37P: Well, I don't keep EVERY card. Just a few select favorites. But they are nice memories.

    Alphie: Sorry you lost your comment! I would have understood your shorter version, but it's nice to have some detail. :)