To Aunt Cornelia

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard. Unused, dated July 24, 1913. NOKO stamp box.

Price:  $10.00

A couple in a farming community somewhere in the U. S. pose in front of what may be their home. (Note the lace curtain in the window on our right.) But if this is not their residence it could have been a public meeting house for church services. (The woman is holding a small book, perhaps a prayer book). But the main reason that we might think “church” are the two side-by-side doors on the front of this structure:  It was not uncommon for church services to be segregated, having two separate entrances for men and women. However, old homes also, for many varied reasons, sometimes were built with this two-door design. (See the link below.) Also, notable about the building is that it sits up on blocks.

As for the young couple, (hard-working farmers we imagine, perhaps newly wed) we remark on the fact that the man wears overalls over his shirt and tie. (Are we back to the church theory or is he just dressed up a bit for the photo?) Either way, its pretty charming and adds to the uniqueness of this photo postcard.

Sources:  Kibbel, III, William. “Two Front Doors.” (oldhouseweb.com). Accessed April 2, 2024.

Vivian Mack’s Friend, Bunnie, Schoolcraft, Michigan

Divided back postcard. Postmarked November 3, 1912 from Schoolcraft, Michigan.

Price:  $15.00

The very cute, “Bunnie,” squinting a little from the sun, posing in front of a porch trellis that is covered in two different leafy vines. (One is heart-shaped, the other, something else.) She’s on her way somewhere (or just back from) – we’re playing detective here – noted because of the small purse she holds in her left hand. Her outfit of skirt and blouse has a short scalloped-edge, “curtained” layer:  This piece is called a peplum, and was created (in various styles) to add a little flair to the hips, thereby accentuating the waist – in other words, to bring back just a little of that “hourglass” look that had been previously so popular in women’s fashion.

From TextileGlossary.com:

“The peplum can be created using various techniques, such as pleating, gathering, or ruffling fabric. It can be attached to the bodice of a garment, creating a seamless transition from the waistline, or it can be a separate piece that is sown onto the waist. The length of the peplum can vary, ranging from a subtle and short flounce to a dramatic and floor-length extension.”

Peplum examples in some of the images below, from a Google image search:

Back to our postcard:

Addressed to:   “Miss Vivian Mack, Dexter Michigan.”

Well, if only life were always that easy! Dexter, Michigan (northwest of Ann Arbor, in Washtenaw County) must have been a pretty small town in 1912 – no street or rural route was needed to get this card to its intended. (Indeed, the census taker for Dexter in 1910 had enumerated 542 persons.) Established as a village in 1830, Dexter was not incorporated as a city until 2014. As of 2020 the population was about 4500. Schoolcraft, by the way, is on the other side of the state, south of Kalamazoo.

The sender wrote:  “Dearest Mimmie :- Don’t think that I have forgotten you or that your birthday comes Sunday. I hope you will have a lovely Birthday. What did you do Halloween? Merle had a party. Everybody in S. is pretty well but Papa, who has a broken leg. Hope I will hear from you soon – Bunnie.”

Note that Bunnie has embellished three of the capital letters in the address – a nice birthday touch.

Vivian Mack

Vivian Irene Mack was born in Rodney, Ontario, Canada November 3, 1896. Investigating further, we were so sorry to learn that she had died in January of 1920, at age 23 (pneumonia with heart complications). Vivian, (and we’re sorry we don’t have a picture of her) was the daughter of the Rev. Henry Mack and Annie Sine. She had married Robert J. Ernst on April 12, 1919.

Sources:  Dexter, Michigan. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexter,_Michigan (accessed February 11, 2024).

Year: 1900; Census Place: Hadley, Lapeer, Michigan; Roll: 724; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0037. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Dexter, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: T624_677; Pages 1A – 17B; Enumeration District: 0139; FHL microfilm: 1374690. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 146; Film Description: 1919 Ontonagon-1919 Wayne. (Ancestry.com).

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70977302/vivian_irene-ernst: accessed February 11, 2024), memorial page for Vivian Irene Mack Ernst (–), Find a Grave Memorial ID 70977302, citing Forest Lawn Cemetery, Dexter, Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA; Maintained by Anonymous (contributor 47412861).

“What is ‘Peplum’ – Definition & Explanation.” January 19, 2023, https://www.textileglossary.com/terms/peplum.html. (Accessed February 13, 2024.)

Google.com search, “images of peplums in 1910s.” (Accessed February 13, 2024.)

Faithful Friends

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard. AZO stamp box. 1908.

Price:  $3.00

Well, if anybody can decipher the surname for our Ed, (intuition, psychic ability, maybe you’ve seen a similar name?) if so, you are utterly amazing. What do you reckon, Ed is maybe four years old? So, born around 1904. Given name obviously likely to be Edward or maybe Edwin or Edgar, middle initial “M” and he’s a Junior. Caton is a surname that comes up pretty frequently, and certainly the first three letters fit, but the rest – ee gads – that handwriting, wow. Cotman or Catman? If only the person that wrote this had given us a location. Still, the photo’s a total charmer….Ed in his white sailor suit, straight hair, short bangs, that steady gaze. His dog “Nig” or “Mig,” looks like some kind of shepherd mix, black with a little white, wearing a heavy collar, just look at those big ears and those dark brown eyes looking at the camera  – a bit of a worried look – he doesn’t trust whatever that weird apparatus is and he’s in protection mode…..It’s fun to pick up our own impressions from photos, but I think one thing we can say for sure – we’re looking at two best friends who took care of each other.

A Mom and Two Daughters

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. AZO stamp box. Circa 1907 – 1918.

Price:  $7.00

No i.d. for this one. Why did I buy it? I like the contrasting fabrics, the plaid and the stripes – all that cotton. Refreshing to see in our day and age of synthetics. The girls’ expressions are so sweet, and there’s the mom’s narrowed (maybe a vision thing) but steady gaze, she’s slouched in the chair (a little unusual but that could have been according to where the photographer wanted her to appear, with the girls standing taller). The mom is wearing wire-rimmed spectacles, a watch and chain and a flat-topped hat. (There seemingly were no end to hat styles.)

One thing of note is the pattern on the younger girl’s dress, (click twice on the card image to enlarge). They’re a little hard to make out but those are (not pinwheels) but swastikas – the original meaning of this ancient symbol represented good luck. For more on that subject see the BBC article link below in “Sources”.

Since old newspaper articles and ads reveal a lot we always like to check them for proof of what was actually going on at the time; pretty enlightening in this case, as they do indeed confirm the swastika as a phenom and the time-frame that it had become popular (again). From Newspapers.com, starting around 1899 with 126 search results for “swastika” in the U.S., ads start appearing for products such as Swastika Stationary. (Bear in mind that many of these are instructional articles and, of course, there are always duplicate articles that appeared in multiple newspapers.) From 1899 through 1905 the results are in the 100 or 200 range. Then in 1906 it jumps to 787 results, and in 1907 it has skyrocketed to 9,875.

Below, a portion of a long article that appeared in the Washington D.C. Evening Star, September 1907, stating the then-current fad in the U.S. came from across the Atlantic, France actually. Caution:  Don’t take this as gospel – it could certainly be correct but we wouldn’t want to say for sure without extensive research.

There is also the probability that the symbol’s popularity was influenced by author and poet, Rudyard Kipling:  The author had requested previously (year unknown) that his father (an artist) design an emblem for him for book covers. See the images in this link of the elephant, lotus flower and swastika design (and subsequent image, minus the swastika). Kipling, in 1899, filed a lawsuit (which he lost, but that’s another story) against some publishers for copyright infringement (lower left from the Chicago Tribune, April 1899). Later in 1899 we see ads appearing nationwide, like the article on our right from The Los Angeles Times, August 1899:

One last note:  After readily falling down the rabbit hole for most of this post, we don’t want to forget to mention that the end date for our postcard is from Playle.com regarding the AZO stamp box, with all four triangles pointing upward.

Sources:  “How the world loved the swastika – until Hitler stole it.” October 23, 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29644591. (Accessed December 4, 2023).

“Swastikas vs. Corbetts For Today’s Game.” Arizona Daily Star, March 22, 1908. Sunday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

“The Filigree Swastika Latest Form Of The Emblem.”  Albuquerque Journal. June 25, 1906. Monday, p. 4. (Newspapers.com).

“The Latest Out.” The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. (Fort Wayne, Indiana).December 3, 1899. Sunday, p. 3. (Newspapers.com).

Search results for “swastika” from years 1898 – 1907. (Newspapers.com).

Watkins, Jake E. “Swastika, World’s Oldest Symbol Is Latest Fad. Modern Use Of This Ancient Good-Luck Sign.” Evening Star. (Washington, D. C.). September 7, 1907. Saturday, p. 21. (Newspapers.com).

“Tells of Kipling Books.” Chicago Tribune. April 28, 1899. Friday, p. 5. (Newspapers.com).

“Books.” The Los Angeles Times. August 24, 1899. Thursday, p. 9. (Newspapers.com).

“Kipling Loses His Suit Against The Putnams.” The Publishers’ Weekly. No. 1616. January 17, 1903, pp. 80-81. (Google.com).

“Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes. A – B.” playle.com. (accessed December 7, 2023).

Another Unusual House

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard. Circa 1910’s – 1930’s. 

Price:  $12.00

The overexposure in this one makes it easy to miss at first, but there’s a chimney in our top right-hand view. (Click twice to enlarge.) And see how oddly it’s placed, cutting into the second-story roof eave? Probably the second floor and porch were later additions, right? Not that that would be unusual; it’s just the strangeness of how and where the chimney and roof intersect that gets us. (Maybe other examples are out there online but I didn’t see any). Then specifically it’s that very small overexposed bit (where the edge of the porch roof and chimney corner intersect) that tricks the eye so that the top portion of the chimney looks like it can’t meet with the lower portion (a fun-house-Alice-In-Wonderland-Dr. Seuss effect) or as if the chimney starts on the second floor. (Really not!) What’s the home style? Definitely there’s a Craftsman element from those deep eaves and exposed rafters and I’m not sure if this is considered Arts and Crafts but how about the charming wooden railings and those “rays of sun” extending up under the porch roof on the sides? Really, thumbs up on on the whole porch design. (The mind wanders….picturing the homeowners, admirers of Craftsman-style homes happily making requests of the builder……)

Kristofa and Baby

Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1910’s.

Price:  $12.00

The sender wrote:

“Mrs. Hanna[?] & Hubby. Dear friends, hope you feel better today. [?] yourself for going home & see your mother before [?]. I vish I had a change, I vould like to come over next veek sometimes if the veather permits, hope you Hubby is working now. I send you a card vith the House & the old vomen on. Vhat do you think of it. I can not see[?] a day but hope to see you soon. Vith best regards to yourself , Hubby & Baby from us all. Kristofa.”

This house is really interesting with its entrance on the second floor – after some online searching I’ll admit I’m still lost on the style. My field guide to houses got water-damaged and I had to toss it (the answer probably was in there, rolling eyes) and I’m sure I’ll order another, but meanwhile I posted a query at an architectural site – hopefully they get back to me.

Another great aspect of this card is that it invites us, in a way, to share part of Kristofa’s Scandinavian-American life – just in hearing the accent that so nicely prevails in her note. But there she is, posing herself and her young son, he standing atop the wooden railing, safe and secure in her arms (note the tight grip on the trousers!). Note also the beautiful lace curtains in all the windows. If we were invited in, there would undoubtedly be coffee (Scandinavians love their coffee) and most likely an accompanying cake…..

Mary Kottmyer in Chicago

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard, used. Circa early 1910’s.

Price:  $15.00

The smartly-dressed Mary in suit and ostrich-plume hat. We’re guessing she’s in her early twenties…..

As you’ve noticed, this card was postmarked but the date and location stamp portion didn’t make it, though odds are it went through Chicago. The sign under Mary’s left hand, when darkened in Photoshop, shows “Chicago Express.”  That being said, this is a photographer’s set up (albeit a nice one) as the scene behind her looks a little too clean and contrived. Indeed, the iron railing has the same look, and note the lack of space someone would have had to exit that door. (Rather amusing and obvious once you notice it!) Mary’s surname we’re basing on some online searches for similar possibilities and looking at the rest of the writing (the “e” in particular). But the correct spelling could just as easily be Kottmeyer, with the person who penned it just being unaware. One gets the impression that the handwriting on our left is much later, as if Emaline was going through a group of old cards and photos and adding names and locations.

Addressed to:   Emaline Keebler, 1304 Prichard St. Pittsburg Pa.”

Emaline M. Keebler was easily found in census records at this address. Per the 1940 Federal Census in Pittsburgh, she was born about 1897 in PA, single, occupation teacher at a public school. Further info was found on Find A Grave:  born November 15, 1896, daughter of Emil Andrew Keebler and Clara Olga (Kirbach) Keebler.

Sources:  Year: 1940; Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03670; Page: 63A; Enumeration District: 69-589.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/109707824/emaline-m-keebler: accessed 26 September 2023), memorial page for Emaline M. Keebler (15 Nov 1896–21 Jul 1984), Find a Grave Memorial ID 109707824, citing Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Mount Lebanon, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA; Maintained by texjenn (contributor 48885098).

Mae at the Iowa River Dam, Iowa City, 1908

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard. Postmarked January 15, 1908, Iowa City, Iowa.

Price:  $15.00                Size:  About 5 x 3 and 1/2″. Card is slightly cropped. 

For old times sake…….

Addressed to:   “Mr. L. G. Johnson. Denver Colo. Box 4. 40th St.Station.”

The sender wrote:   “For old times sake I send you this. Mae.”

The Iowa River is a tributary of the Mississippi and measures about 323 miles long. We found some similar images in old postcards currently on eBay and then the ad below from Duluth Lumber in 1909 confirming that Mae’s location was indeed the Iowa City Dam, today called the Burlington Street Dam. The building in the background should be the power station. And enlarge the postcard twice to get a much better view of Mae’s hat. (It’s quite nice!)

Sources:  Iowa River. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_River (accessed September 17, 2023).

Burlington Street Dam. https://www.iowawhitewater.org/lhd/LHDburlingtonst.html (accessed September 19, 2023).

Duluth Lumber Co. Ad. Iowa City Press-Citizen. March 12, 1909. Friday, p. 3. (Newspapers.com).

A Moment’s Rest

Real Photo Postcard, unused. Stamp box:  DOPS. Circa 1925 – 1942.

Price:  $8.00

Is this us? Finding a safe spot in a storm, surrounded by the chaos of life, just a breather for a minute, but drawing strength….Yeah, it feels like it, and I’m with ya.

The time frame on this one comes from the great Playle’s website re Real Photo Stamp Boxes.

Source:  “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes – D-E.” https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photod.php (accessed September 11, 2023).

Vinita Belle Lowry

Real Photo Postcard, 1919. Unused. ARTURA stamp box. 

Price:  $15.00

Such a cute baby and how excellent that the family member gave us the description on the reverse:

“Vinita Belle Lowry at the age of 13 months.”

Vinita Belle’s date of birth was February 22, 1918, so this photo then was taken in March of 1919. Her parents were Claud Lowry and Effie (Dickerson) Lowry. Find A Grave has a lot of information for the family including a long obit for Vinita. See link below:

Source:  Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/38993488/vinita-kollmeyer: accessed 10 July 2023), memorial page for Vinita Lowry Kollmeyer (22 Feb 1918–25 Mar 2007), Find a Grave Memorial ID 38993488, citing Hazelwood Cemetery, Springfield, Greene County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Judy Young (contributor 46792475).