Today, Monday, February 6, 2017, I received a package in the mail which is always an experience of high expectation: "What did I order and when?" This package contained a vintage postcard of the Pyramid of the Sun, outside Mexico City. I ordered it because I had just finished reading Lost City of the Monkey God, and I wanted to see the pyramids again that I saw for the first time in 1964. I was 19 and it was my first trip alone as a young adult. Well, that is to say, without parents, because I went with a friend from work, a girl my age.
Needless to say our parents were terrified, but we were daring and felt ourselves to be completely competent to undertake such a journey. The adventures of that trip will have to wait for another occasion because this entry is about postcards.
A taxi driver outside our hotel in Mexico City, insisted that we should pay him to take us to the pyramids. We didn't know if we were being kidnapped or abducted, but we paid our $10 (amazing isn't it - 1964 price!) and had the archaeological experience of a lifetime. I sent postcards home, of course.
Probably, because I am the age that tends to repeat stories, I have told you how I got started collecting postcards. My Uncle Yock, Joseph Frederick Young, worked part-time for the post office at Ocean City as a mail sorter. He was a droll and mischievous Uncle, a reader of Argosy magazines. Often when he was at work, he came upon postcards with postage but no address, a frequent occurrence at resort areas where people begin their cards, put them aside and let the ones with no addresses, accidentally get mailed with the correctly addressed ones. He would put my mother's or father's or my name and our address on Warnock Street in Philadelphia, on the cards and we got these wonderful messages from strangers. So much fun!
From that time forward, I have been a postcard sender, buyer and collector. I have had special interests off and on, over the years, beginning with vintage seashore cards. My oldest is 1911, with a penny stamp and a message to a Mr. Eck, from his friend vacationing in Ocean City, reminding him to "set a date to get together to study the Constitution." I am imagining that G.B, the sender, may have been an immigrant working on his citizenship, as were the grandparents of Joseph Frederick Young, at one time. I have photos, dated 1884, of Catherine Sandman and William Adam Young, Uncle Yock's parents, whose own parents had come here from Germany in 1820. I have a photocopy of the original Jung's citizenship paper.
Also, in my one year travels around Europe in 1969, I sent many postcards to my parents and my grandmother, Mabel Young Wright, in Ocean City, Uncle Yock's sister, and they saved them and gave them back to me tied with a ribbon.
Last year I began a postcard project using old family photos from holidays and special occasions to send out as greeting cards.
A bit of information if you have postcards to sell: The person from whom I purchased my Mexican pyramid postcard from buys "Collections and Accumulations Large and Small" among a variety of other paper items. His name is Eric Larson, and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I used to collect postage stamps and beads (sold in a yard sale to a child the year I moved from Philly to NJ) and I still collect books but I don't have any other collections any more.
Something I do not collect but have admired in collection is passports - so intriguing, the stories they have to tell about history.
And speaking of small and beautiful landscapes, once in New York, many years ago, I saw a gallery show of postcard sized original paintings, sent during the Victorian period by travelers making the grand tour of Europe. Some were sent by the artists who made them, others were purchased or commissioned by travelers to send home. They were exquisite treasures. And again, when I was in college studying printmaking, other artist friends and I would make and send original art postcards to one another. What a treat. Back in that time, I was actually in an art show at the Muse Gallery of "Femailable Art."
I have no art friends left in my communication circle, but I wish I did so we could send one another such gifts. The mail will always have delight and adventure attached to it to me.