Divided Back postcard. Postmarked from Loudonville, Ohio, October 10, 1908.
There are other “Coming Home By Rail” postcards that can be found online; the joke, of course, being that the person is not traveling by train but walking along the railroad ties to get home. And due to the frequent occurrence of the expression in U. S. newspapers, (1872 is the earliest we found,) we assume it was American in origin. In the 1910’s (not surprisingly) it was still going strong, becoming less common as more and more people became proud car owners. The last mention we found was in 1952 (must have been an old-timer who wrote that article 😉 ).
For a twist on the original gag, here’s a clip from the U. K., from the Kent and Sussex Courier, 1923:
Friends, Orpha and Bertha…..
Postcard addressed to: “Miss Bertha Yoder, North Manchester Ind. “College.”
The sender wrote: “Hello Bertha. That address is: Mr. C. U. Slifer. Abilene, Kansas. Hope you will receive the picture O.K. Pardon me for not getting the address sooner.”
“Do not think that I have forgotten you altho’ my silence seems to imply as much. I have been away visiting. Tell Cora that I saw her bro. Clyde at our District Meeting last week. Kindly remember me to Cora and all others that I do not know. Be good till I see you. Bye bye, Orpha. No. [North] Manchester about Oct. 20. Girlie tell all the pretty boys that I am coming and speak a good word for me. Do not forget. Ha! Ha! Lovingly, Orpha W.”
The given name Orpha was not terribly uncommon around the time this postcard was sent. The town of Loudonville, Ohio is located in Holmes and Ashland counties. Rather surprisingly, we weren’t able to find definite matches for either Orpha or Bertha.
Sources: “The Yale Exploring Expedition of 1871.” The Watertown News (Watertown, Wisconsin). April 3, 1872. Wednesday, p. 1. (Newspapers.com).
“Tonbridge Cricket Week.” Kent and Sussex Courier (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England). June 22, 1923. Friday, p. 13. (Newspapers.com).
“County Party Line.” Ventura County Star-Free Press (Ventura, California). July 10, 1952. Thursday, p. 6. (Newspapers.com).