Sunday, September 26, 2010

Postcards from the Past

It is no secret that I am one of the nearly 370 million people who have read PostSecret on line. I read it every Sunday morning. I sometimes ponder what secret I would send in if I were going to do that and what postcard I would use.
Just thinking about postcards in general made me think of some of the old family pictures I took with me to share at the Ridnour Reunion yesterday. One of them was the postcard of my grandfather, Joseph R. Ridnour (lower right) taken October 25 1914 when he was 18.
Quite a few of the old family pictures I have are postcards. That must have been a popular or easy way of doing photos at that time. The top right postcard is of my grandmother, Delphia Means (Ridnour) in front and two of her cousins, Jessie Means (Miller) left and Blanche Means (?).
Then I began thinking about my Grandmother Bessie Duncan Lynam's postcard collection from which the bottom left postcard comes. It is a picture of a Presbyterian Church in El Centro, California.

And it comes from this Post Cards album. On the back of the card is written: "Aug 15 - 1911. Dear Bessie, This is the church that dissolved itself so suddenly last month in our rain and wind storm and it may be the church or house that "Jack built" for all I know. (Quotes and underlined - wish I knew the significance of those marks.) Your picture of yourself is very good. I think probably that you must be a larger girl than when I saw you last. (Bessie would have been 20 then.) I thank you very much. We tried to get some Kodac (sic) pictures but they were no good." It is signed Cora Shafer (?) I have no idea who Cora was nor how many years it had been since she had seen Bessie.
The Merry Xmas card of the pipe smoking cats is not a postcard, but I've included it because it is "To Bessie (from) Grandma Hull". Rosina Edwards Hull would have been Bessie's great-grandma; my great-great-great grandmother.

The inscription inside this album reads: "Christmas - 1908 From Mama" Postcards on the first page top to bottom are Chateau de Binard, France; Switzerland - The City of Lugano and Cliff House from Sutro Heights, San Francisco, CA. (This is a different building than the Cliff House there now, but in the same location.) Many of the cards in this album are from Bessie's Grandmother, Agnes Georgina Hull Richardson - Grandma Aggie - and her sister, Belle Hull.
The postcards picture places from the United States and around the world. Some were mailed to her and some given to her - many from Grandma Aggie. I am quite certain AGR, as she signed the cards, did not travel to all these places. What is almost certain is that Grandma Bessie collected post cards and her grandmother and others contributed to her collection.
This Post Card Album was given to my brother Ronald Lynam by Grandma Bessie's nephew, Ronald Figgins. Ron Figgins said he found it in the bottom of a trunk he bought at an auction. I wonder whose auction? A family member? How did Bessie's album end up in someone else's possession?

These postcards of Grandma Bessie's came to me from her daughter, my Aunt Leona Lynam Childers Shropshire. The two bottom "State Belles" cards are from "Series No. 2669, Raphael Tuck & Sons, Art Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen By Appointment Photochromed in Saxony".
The State of New York card and the other four states below are all from S. Langsdorf & Co., New York but "Germany" is also printed on the backs which makes me believe they were manufactured in Germany and imported by S. Langsdorf & Co. The dresses on these five cards have a velvety finish.
The postcard in the upper right corner is of The Corning Academy. It is one of several black and white postcards of various buildings around Corning. This one says "From Bell" Sept. 15, 1910." Then in a slightly different pencil: "Geo went to school here." If that means, her husband, George Lynam, which I assume it does, that is something I did not know - that Grandpa George attended Corning Academy.

Not only are these old postcards interesting to look at, the ones that are written on offer what may be clues to Grandma's life before she married. One such card mailed from Grandma Aggie in Corning is addressed to Bessie Duncan, Prescott, Iowa, care of J. Kane, R. 1.
I know Grandma worked out as a hired girl before she married Grandpa in 1914. She met George Lynam when she was working for someone. There was a John Kane who farmed in Mercer Township. Grandpa George's grandmother Catherine and uncle John Lynam lived in Mercer Twp. Is that where/when they met?

In addition to the older postcards of buildings and scenes in Corning, there are a few newer ones - circa late 1950's - among the ones sent to me by Aunt Leona. One of these is a picture of Main Street looking South on Davis Avenue. My Dad sent it to Grandma when she was visiting her daughter in Phoenix. It is postmarked April 4, 1965: "Dear Mom I visited this town to-day, having a grand time wish u were here this town realy booms on Sat when the Farmers trade their eggs for corn meal and gingham
When are u coming home write & someone will meet u I would say Easter wk sometime as its cold here yet froze yesterday Mom, ask Al if this makes him home sick LLLynam"
The address was written in my Mom's hand as is a note at the top: "Aunt Florence passed away last night." (Spelling and lack of punctuation left as Dad wrote it.)
Perhaps not the secrets found on PostSecret, yet these postcards from the past yield up mysteries of their own. And they are so much more interesting because they are from family and that makes them personal as well as historical.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Ramona,
    Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across your website while searching for information on my great great great grandmother, Rosina Edwards Hull! I was so excited to see your information regarding the postcard from Cora Shafer. I can tell you a bit about Cora. She is the daughter of Martha Rebecca Hull Glougie. Martha is the eldest daughter of Rosina and John Hull and she and her husband, settled in Fresno, California. Cora's sons wrote much of the Hull family history by hand. It was transferred to a large blueprint sized copy. I have a copy of this document and have put most of the information into files that can be shared digitally (GEDCOM). Are you interested in sharing information? I see that you live in Iowa where much of our shared family history takes place. I can't tell you how excited I am to find you, a distant cousin!
    Vicki Anthony Clason