Sunday, October 8, 2017

Greetings! Cards and Notes Tell Stories of the Early 1900s

If email, Facebook, and Twitter had been around in the early 1900s, we would have no insight into communication among members of the Howe and Salyers families of Carrollton, Kentucky. Thank goodness people actually wrote notes and cards to each other – and thank goodness Sarah Eva Howe Salyers pasted so many of those notes and cards into her scrapbooks.

The most recent scrapbook I've explored contains many cards, and each one tells us something not only about Sarah but about the time in which she was a young woman. Today we'll look at some of those cards from the 1920s and 1930s.

Some cards in the scrapbook celebrate birthdays, while others are for staying in touch. Here are examples of both kinds.

These two birthday cards are pasted to old, crumbling pages, and I dare not try to remove them to see who sent them and who received them.

This birthday card was probably addressed to one of Sarah's children.
This sweet card invites someone to visit.
Someone is nudging the recipient of this card to write back. The sender, or maybe Sarah herself, tagged the dogs with the names of Sarah's children: James Richard, Bob, and Mary Alice.
Sarah's sister Leonora Alice Howe sent this postcard from Cincinnati to her brother-in-law (Sarah's husband), William Levi Salyers, while he was traveling on business.
Sarah sent this card to her husband, who was again traveling in his job as a representative of Moore Brothers Company, distributor of stoves and furnaces. She wrote a poignant note: 
"Who looks for your buttons now?"

Sarah kept many cards that have a Dutch theme. Most of them, like this one, are stereotypical – a child wearing wooden shoes, a windmill, and messages written in ethnic vernacular to simulate mispronunciation of American speech. I know from her descendants that she often used this phrase about the weather: "There's just enough blue in the sky today to make a Dutchman a pair of britches." I'll post more Dutch-themed cards in future posts, maybe with some insight about American attitudes about Dutch immigrants in the early 1900s. 
I wish I knew the story behind this card. Who sent it? Who received it?

Last but not least, this card sent by Sarah's son James Richard ("Jim") to his sister Mary Alice, suggesting that it might apply to her. It was in the early 1930s, and letters in the scrapbook reveal that Mary Alice had caught the eye of a young man named Lawrence. Jim suggested that she would jump up and run after him if he walked down her street.

Postcards and note cards tell a lot of stories. We'll look at more of them in a future post. In the meantime, I'll take a break from blogging to spend time with visiting relatives – three generations descended from Sarah's daughter Mary Alice.

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