Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Notes, scribbles and doodles on the back of an old postcard

It's not often that the reverse side of the postcard is the first image in one of my posts. In this case, though, it's the more interesting side of a cool old postcard.

Written in various spots on the card are:
  • Miss Mabel Eleanor Thevenet
  • 371 Seymour Avenue
  • William

And then there was a word — presumably the name of a place — that was written twice and spelled differently each time. Here it is:

Through a little triangulation and luck, I was able to determine that this word is supposed to be Weequahic, which is a neighborhood in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey.1 There's a Seymour Avenue in that neighborhood.2

Mabel Eleanor Thevenet lived from 1895 and 1983 and her father was Wilhelm Friedrich Thevenet (1869-1958), who immigrated to America after being born in Baden, Germany. Mabel's mother was Helga Klara Pauelsen (1868-1942), who was born in Oslo, Norway.3

So, Mabel was a German-Norwegian-American.

Changing gears, the back of the postcard also features this doodle of a person's head. (Or maybe it's supposed to be the sun.) I wonder if "William" was the artist. Or perhaps it was Mabel.

And then there's the front of the postcard, which shows a man and woman who are wearing decidedly European-looking outfits.

There's no caption. But the initials "N.W.D. &" appear in the lower-right corner. The full credit might "N.W.D. & S." or ""N.W.D. & S. Eier," and the postcard might be of Norwegian origin.

I found a few other examples of materials published under those initials, including a Norwegian forest fairy.

There are at least four gorgeous examples of N.W.D. & S. cards in the Wikimedia Commons, which I will post here to add some smiles to your day.

ca. 1880-1890 / Wilhelm Larsen (1854-1893) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1890 / Wilhelm Larsen / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1900 / Oscar Wergeland (1844-1910) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1890 / Wilhelm Larsen (1854-1893) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

This whole post, of course, has been courtesy of a scribbled-upon, never-mailed postcard that has survived many, many decades without being tossed in the trash. Without it, we could never have made all these connections and discoveries. What little surprises will we leave in our drawers, desks, books and chests for future generations?

1. Fun facts about Weequahic:
  • A. According to Wikipedia, it's "pronounced wih-QWAY-ik, though many locals say WEEK-way."
  • B. Weequahic is Lenni-Lenape for "head of the cove".
  • C. Author Philip Roth grew up in Weequahic.
  • D. The 2009 documentary Heart of Stone, by Beth Toni Kruvant, details the history of Weequahic High School and how it, through some mighty struggles, forged a new identity and built new successes as the neighborhood around it changed.
2. There is an Alana Thevenet connected with a house on Seymour Avenue, according to this page on
3. I also found her name listed as "Helga Clara Eleonore Thevenet."


  1. I am Alana Thevenet, the one you mention in your notes. William was Wilhelm F. Thevenet who was born in 1870 in Wassergasse, Pforzheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. He was married to Helga Klara Ellonora Paulsen who was born in 1868 in Kristiania, Akershus, Norway. If you would like more information, please let me know.

    1. Alana: Thanks for commenting! I would love to hear more about your family. You can email me at, and we can converse that way, if it works for you.