Sunday, September 28, 2014

1908 postcard: "TOO BUSY TO WRITE."

This card was postmarked on September 27, 1908, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and it was published by Bamforth & Co.1 of tiny Holmfirth, England, and New York. It was mailed to a Mr. Frank Eben of 926 Pear Street in Reading, Pennsylvania.2

The short message, in cursive writing, on the front of the postcard wraps around the edges in an odd way. But I believe I have determined the correct order and that it states:
"think you two very selfish, but certainly will look for you again (?)"

And so we're left to guess as to the meaning of that short note. Was the postcard writer "stood up" by the Ebens? And how do "TOO BUSY TO WRITE" and the image of the couple under the umbrella at the seashore fit into all of this? Maybe I'm thinking about it too hard.

Were people just as busy 100 years ago as they are now?3

Somewhat along these lines, my wife wrote a Facebook post this past summer in which she lamented, in part:
"Today's semi-random, definitely rambling thought: Many people lament the death of the handwritten letter, and I certainly miss those. (For a while, I was trying to send one handwritten card/letter a month, and I'd like to do that again.) But as technology progresses, I'm left lamenting the death of the long email, too. I remember in high school, exchanging these ridiculous lists of random thoughts with friends; we'd even number them, and you'd have, like, a 57-point treatise ... in your email in which point 39 was 'This point intentionally left blank.' Today, I got a nice email from my only sister NOT on Facebook, and it made me super-aware that there's just something different about the stream-of-consciousness, person-to-person, long-form communication that, though much less frequent than Facebook comments or text messages, seems more valuable somehow. Not sure why. Maybe because I can save emails and reread them when I need a pick-me-up? Maybe because it makes me feel valuable that someone spent their time actually writing out words in sentences with punctuation, not for a blog post or Facebook status for everyone, but JUST for me? I don't know, maybe it's just because I like words and always feel like I have way too many of them I'm trying to spit out."

And that ties in, too, with a post I wrote about a year and a half ago titled "Connecting with the world via postcards in 2013."

Long letters. Short postcards. Long phone calls. Greeting cards with just a name. Long emails. Short Facebook posts. Postcards with tiny writing and long messages. Texts. Tweets. Short emails. Emoji. GIFs. Yo.

Sometimes I don't think we realize how rapidly the ways in which we communicate with each other are changing. And I doubt we stop to even consider whether we should be retaining the "old" forms of communication that are most meaningful.

1. Bamforth & Co. was well-known for its seaside postcards, magic lantern slides, and short films, made between 1898 and 1915. Their film titles included Catching The Milk Thief, Winky Diddles The Hawker, Cod-Fish And Aloes, The Green-Eyed Monster and Have Some More Meat?
2. In a June 6, 2013, post (in the midst of the Postcard Blogathon), I featured separate postcards addressed to Frank and Emma Eben of Reading.
3. Brigid Schulte has a new book titled Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, which sounds like an interesting read ... if I had the time.

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