Her name was Marguerite E. DeWitt. I believe she lived from 1899 to 1987.1
She was a photographer. She was a Christian. And she was alone that Christmas of 1958.
I don't know much about her beyond that. Or beyond the words and photographs she left. But we still have those, thanks to this postcard.
The front of her card features a black-and-white photograph of a snowy street scene, presumably taken from her apartment window. The caption, in her unique lettering, reads:
By M.E. DeWITT '58
Scratched onto the photo, in the bottom right corner, is a unique logo that incorporates her initials. That logo helped me to identify at least one other piece of her photography.
Here's a closer look at the wintry street scene:
Perhaps it was never sent at all.
There is a typed note (with a few fixes and mis-strikes here and there) and then, upside down, a short cursive note, in pen, along the bottom.
The cursive note reads: "No '57 cards due to a shattered arm." Next to that note is the same logo that appears on the front of the card.
Here are those two logos, side by side:
Here is what the typed note on the back of the postcard states:
I found two other photographs by DeWitt online.Alone on THE HILL Christmas '58
600 W. 116th St. Ap. 44, New York 27
Oh, what shall we do
Throughout the long year?
And what shall we do on THE DAY?
Believe in BELIEF
-From hour to hour
No matter what doubters may say.
Believe in BELIEF
--the innermost LAW
That can come to the heart of all.
It bravely shines through
Darkest hours of man
And answers all sighs and each call
A blessed Christmastide
And a New Year of believing
To you and yours
from MARGUERITE E. DeWITT
This first one is titled "Three Children in the Grass." It was taken around 1915 and is currently in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum (though not currently on display). The same logo from the postcard appears on this photograph, in the lower-right corner:2
The second photograph bearing her name is an untitled image of a steeple. It was also created around 1915. It apparently sold for about $62 in a California auction earlier this year.3 I really love this photo.
Marguerite lived nearly another three decades after creating her "Alone on THE HILL Christmas '58" postcard. I hope they weren't all spent alone, and that she had happier Christmases in subsequent years.
And I'm glad for the small opportunity to remember her — and a small part of her life's work — here on Papergreat this Christmastide. That wouldn't be possible if this hand-made postcard hadn't survived the past 54 years.
1. I believe that this Sysoon page refers to the same Marguerite E. Dewitt I'm writing about today. So, if she was born in April 1899, she would have been 59 during Christmas 1958.
2. Yes, I am aware she would have been about 16 when she took this photo, if it's truly "circa 1915". I think that could have been possible.
3. One auction site states that it sold for $62. Another states $63. I wonder who purchased it. And if he or she is displaying it somewhere. And does the purchaser knows anything about Marguerite?