Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eventually it will be warm and we can all do the Schuhplattler Dance

We received a dumping of about a half-foot of wet snow yesterday. Now, I love winter and I'm a big fan of snowstorms. But not this late. Not when the Major League Baseball season is less than one week away.

Early spring snowfall and onion snow (a Pennsylvania term) are unwanted annoyances when we're ready for warmer weather, beautiful blossoms, aggravating allergies and asinine alliteration.

And when it finally gets warmer and the buds appear, perhaps we can all celebrate with the Schuhplattler Dance!1

The above postcard, more than a century old, features some fine folks having quite the hootenanny. The caption states: "Schuhplattler Dance, Tyrol Village, Earl's Court."

Let's take 'em one at a time.
  • The Schuhplattler is, according to Wikipedia, "a traditional folk dance popular in the Alpine regions of Bavaria and Austria." It is a social dance that was used for courtship in parts of the Alps.
  • Tyrol villages were one location where you might see the thigh-, knee- and sole-slapping Schuhplattler performed.
  • The "Tyrol Village" on this postcard, however, was an exhibition in Earl's Court in London just past the turn of the century. I suspect it's the kind of somewhat-authentic re-creation one might see today at a place like Epcot's World Showcase.
Here are some closeups of the Schuhplattlers...

But wait, there's more!

The fun and festivities don't stop with the front of the postcard!

The back of the postcard features a half-penny stamp and a postmark from Hastings, England. It was postmarked on November 6, 1906, though it took me a while to be certain that the "06" on the postmark referred to the year.

In 1902, England was the first country to issue divided-back postcards.3 (The U.S. did not follow suit until 1907.) And British postcard postage was indeed a half-penny until early in World War I, which began in 1914.

So that all adds up to 1906 being entirely plausible as the date for this postcard, which was mailed to Miss Lily Ormandy of Altrincham. Lily was given the following assignment:

Could you send me my black satin dress. Miss Gladys knows where we put the skirt away in the cupboard on the landing & the bodice is in my drawer in the wardrobe. The belt has my name in & if not with skirt or bodice, is in the old white box where they were kept.4

So there you have it! Maybe the postcard writer needed this outfit so she could go kick up her heels and do the Schuhplattler.

1. Or perhaps not.
2. What happened around November 6, 1906? Well, on November 1, Archduke Otto of Austria, who was a bit of a loafer, died of syphilis; on November 3, SOS was approved as the new international distress symbol; and on November 5, astronomer Fred Lawrence Whipple was born.
3. For "A Not So Concise History of the Evolution of Postcards in the United States," check out the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City.
4. Handwriting translation assistance was provided by Joan.


  1. "Let's Schuhplattler like it's 1906" is my new mantra.

    Also, now I'm terribly worried that Miss Gladys really didn't know the whereabouts of the aforementioned skirt, bodice, and belt. I NEED answers. For, like, closure 'n stuff.

    1. 107 years later, and with this as our only clue, I would say the odds of getting closure on this are grim. I guess we'd start by trying to track down the W.H. Johnson clan that resided in the Woodleigh section of Altrincham.