Unexpected Treasure-My FAVORITE! (And who won the bacon!)

So, as you may or may not know, I’m a deltiologist (one who collects and studies postcards)…my specialty being postcards of the ephemeral nature…antique postcards of the Edwardian era (1901-1920 officially…but extending through 1918).

Blah blah blah…let me get to the point…that being, as a deltiologist I have learned that one must be selective in which postcards to keep and which ones to sacrifice for the frustrating sake of lack of storage space.

Therefore, when I received an E-Bay auction “lot” of 15 vintage Christmas postcards, I knew that there would be a risk that some of them would have to be let go…whisked away to join someone else’s collection.

I initially bid on the lot of postcards because this one, and at least seven others, were so darling!  The lot was up for a cheap beginning bid, and I was pretty astonished when I won them for the opening bid price.  Impatiently I waited for the postcards to arrive, and when they did, I began to sort out the ones I favored and could keep over the ones I could not.

It’s important to mention here, that I like antique postcards not just for the beautiful artwork or photographs on the front, but for the wonderful messages that can be found on the back!  I LOVE when I find a fun, fun message on the back…or especially a romantic one, etc.  But to be honest, most have a simple, “Merry Christmas,” type message or something.  Others however, are very interesting, tender…or in the case of one of the postcards in this lot, historically significant!

So there I was, sorting through postcards…and though I hate to part with ANY postcard, this one of the 15 was my least, least, least favorite.  In truth, I didn’t like it at all…the poor little French clown kid having fallen down and dropped his mistletoe and holly.  🙁  How sad!  Definitely not my type of postcard.

Yet, if and when I do have to part with a postcard, I always, always read the back first…and I’m so glad I do!

You may or may not be familiar with my book The Fragrance of Her Name…and the mention of the Influenza Pandemic that killed an estimated 100 million people (3-5 percent of the world’s population at the time).  WWI was part of the reason for the rapid spread of the virus, and as you know, Brant Masterson was a wounded WWI soldier at the beginning of the book.

While doing research for The Fragrance of Her Name, I learned so much about the “Spanish Flu” (so nicknamed because Spain it was falsely assumed, for some time, that Spain was especially hard-hit).  I remember a little skipping rhyme that I learned was popular at the time of the Influenza Pandemic:

I had a little bird…
Its name was, Enza.
I opened up the window,
And in-flu-Enza.

Morbid I know…and it stuck with me long after my research was over!  It STILL sticks with me!

Also during the time I was researching stuff for The Fragrance of Her Name, I went to visit my sister in Tennessee.  (Yep…same trip where we went to visit Graceland!)  Knowing I LOVE old cemeteries, she took me to one in a little town near where she lived in Knoxville.

As we were searching…wandering through the part of the old cemetery where those who had fallen during the Civil War were laid to rest…I meandered away from that spot for a ways.  I came upon a line of tombstones…the names of which all ended with the same surname.  At first, I thought that it was simply a family plot…for it was obvious that all the people interred there were relations.  Yet as I looked more closely I began to read the dates on the tombstones.  Seven of the tombstones bore dates very close to one another—with in days of one another—all in the year 1918.  Five of the tombstones were children, as I recall…and two were there parents.

In truth, it took me a moment.  I thought, “How terrible!  A whole family within the space of a week!  I wonder what could have…”

Yep…that’s when realization finally hit me…influenza.  How sad!

I was pretty depressed, in truth…thinking of that poor family and those who may have lived to miss them.  But then, when I returned to the car, my sister had switched my beverage (ice and water) with hers (ice and Sprite) in the center car console, and when I picked up my drink (which had only ice remaining in it a few moments earlier) and removed the lid from the plastic fast-food cup and tipped it and my head back to retrieve ice…but then found SPRITE all over my front, I was kind of startled out of my despair for that poor family back in 1918.

Anyway (how I DO ramble on, right), as I was going through the postcards I’d won on E-Bay, and found this poor little French clown kid one that I didn’t really like, I DID take a moment to turn it over and read the back.  Wow!  I hadn’t expected what I read…and needless to say, the postcard remains in my collection…not because of the front, but because of the message written on the back and it’s  historical significance to me.

I’ve posted it here, and you can click on it and it should bet big enough to read.  However, in case you can’t see it very well or something, I added some punctuation and it reads:

(Postmarked December 23rd, 1918)

To Mrs. Norma Ransbottom (Thanks for the name info, Mindy!)
Delphos, Ohio
R.R. #6

Dear Friend:

I have been wondering what had become of you.  We are well…have escaped flu so far.  Schools are closed again.  My sister is here visiting again so I am pretty busy.  How is Lorene and Edwin’s kids?  (Often) speak of them.  Answer real soon.  Your friend, Ethel.

See what I’m saying?  Historical treasure!!!  Did Ethel escape the flu entirely?  Did she catch it and then survive it?  Did Norma ever tell her how Lorene and Edwin’s kids were doing?!?!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  So many burning questions!

Maybe it isn’t the pretties postcard ever…but the history behind it is incredible and has already settled into my mind permanently!  Moral of the story…always read the back of something before you give it away!

And now, for a new silly contest.  Let’s see…the winner of my last blog contest is (“Hey, Rocky!  Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”)…this post from Michelle Zeugin!

Michelle Zeugin says:

Hi Marcia! I cannot tell you how much this touches my heart! You see, I am a para professional ( a fancy name for aid) to special needs children! My student this year happens to be an amazing young athlete who just happens to have Down Syndrome! I love the story of Tim’s place! I feel Special people shine with a joyful light! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle…e-mail your address to me at marcialmcclure@cs.com and I’ll get that bacon to you asap!

As for today’s contest…you know I always like to have a contest that somehow parallels my goofy blog…so how about this…This LOVELY little book of 30 Norman Rockwell postcards!  I LOVE Norman Rockwell (and so does my beverage swapping sister!)!  These should be fun to send to friends, include with gifts, or SIMPLY to look through once in a while!  So leave a comment and I’ll pull a name out of my hat next time I blog for the winner of the postcard book!  Fun!  (Though…I’m still haunted about Ethel and Norma and whether or not they escaped the flu! 🙁 )

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11 Responses to Unexpected Treasure-My FAVORITE! (And who won the bacon!)

  1. Kristie says:

    I love Norman Rockwell!!!

  2. Teya Peck says:

    Marcia, I read that entire blog with my mouth wide open! I am a deltiologist and never knew it! I have a box of post cards! I have collected over the years. It started with places I had been. Then places I wanted to go. Then certain styles and historic value etc etc etc. It is hard to sift through because of memories attached and so on. CRAZY!!!! We have 3 normal Rockwell pictures in our home. Girl that is just freaky! I though I was the only person weird enough to collect post cards. I even have friends that send me special ones when they visit places I haven’t been. I don’t think I could part with any of them. Now I’m going to have to check out post cards on eBay!! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ooooh I bet I could find some that go along with themed books. Oh girl you’ve created a monster in me. I now have this urge to go organize my post card box, AGAIN! I may have to post a picture….hmmmmm maybe not I’d be tempted to post a story with each one. See your not the only one to RAMBLE ON!!! LOL!

  3. Gail Hardman says:

    I have a recent collection of postcards from many different counties as my brother in law works for an oil & gas company and travels quite regularly. For example: Italy, France, England, Norway, Turkey, Libya, Abudhabi, Dubai – missed me on his last trip to China.
    One of my nephews lives in China and teaches ESL, travelled to N Korea and sent me a postcard from there. Needless to say my USPS delivery person is always checking to see where my postcard are from!

  4. Kelly Winland says:

    I love ANYTHING vintage – I even have my mother’s collection of matchbooks, that she started in 1940! I wonder what matchbook collecting is called, hmmmm…

  5. Sarah Walter says:

    I love reading all of your personal stories at the end of your books and on your blog. It makes me love your writing even more! And these postcards would be the best gift for my Dad, who is a huge fan of anything Norman Rockwell.

  6. I LOOOVE Norman Rockwell!

  7. Mari says:

    Let me start by saying that I love your blog posts! I had never thought of collecting vintage postcards but what a lovely idea! I would love to ease my way into it 🙂

  8. Mindy says:

    My sister bought my great aunts house a few years ago. .. there was a room in the basement that was locked and as kids we were never alowed in. .. when she bought the house it’s the first thing we wanted to check out. .. we found tons of treasure… but I think the coolest thing was finding my Grandpa’s army trunk. .. it had his uniform… metals…old pictures of his buddies… but we found letters and post cards him and my Grandma had written back and forth…. I love finding things I know are old because of the stories behind each thing. .. but the part I love the most is who they belonged to. .. because something as simple as a post card or letter was something people did everyday to communicate and sometimes they had to wait forever to receive one. .. they probably Never thought someone would give their post cards a second glance these days… when we showed my Grandma the letters she jUst waved her hand and said “o you found those old things. .. nothing juicy in there” but with a twinkle in her eye she went through them smiling every now and then. .. it was an awesome experience!!! Thanks for the post about post cards… memories of finding all those treasures came flooding back 🙂

  9. Katie B says:

    Wow, Marcia… can I just say that you have given me back a part of myself that I never really thought about. Through your books and now your posts I have remembered my deep love of treasures (things of the past that money cannot replace). I used to love all of my grandmothers and great grandmothers things and tried to keep everything. But I was constantly told I am a clutter bug, or trash heep keeper. Little did I realize, being so young, that my true love and interests were with these treasures of the past.
    Recently my oldest daughter was given a special doll from France that her great-grandmother bought for her. She bought it because it reminded her of a Norman Rockwell painting. One Norman Rockwell painting can say so much about real life and the past. They are true treasures.
    Thank you for sharing all of these amazing things you love and your interests. You help me appreciate all the small things we all forget about and no longer see.

  10. Carolyn says:

    Wow that is a lot of history!

    If this giveaway is still going I’m in!

  11. Tacia says:

    I was reading this and I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever received a postcard that wasn’t from my dentist reminding me to make an appointment. I also realized that I’ve never sent a postcard to anyone ever. I’ve written letters a ton and had a pen pal when I was young, but never have I ever sent a post card.
    I save all the letters and cards I’ve ever received and I don’t have a single postcard. It makes me wonder if I misplaced one and the person who sent it well read this and think I’m a horrible friend. Kind of like when I was a kid and felt sad if I caught my mom throwing a dandelion away that I had given her, even though she kept it until it died. … sorry… tangent.
    I love Norman Rockwell and I’ve loved his calendars that I’ve used over the years. I like trying new things. This blog post has given me something new to try. Thanks!

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