Saturday, July 22, 2017

Postcard to Mom and Uncle Charles from Indianapolis

My great-grandmother, Greta Chandler Adams, mailed this postcard of Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Hammond, Indiana, to "Mary Margaret & Charles Ingham" (my mother and uncle) in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. It's a timely post for this weekend, as NASCAR's Brickyard 400 is being held at this very speedway.

Here's what Greta wrote in fairly nice cursive on the back of this Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color Reproduction postcard:
"Save this card for I did not see this this time. Thought you might like to get this view — different! I am wide awake at 2:15 A.M. Sat. I drank coffee at Clark's hence wide awake! Sorry I did. Had good fried-chicken, you would liked it! Be good. Grandma."
It's hard to read the date on the postcard. The card has a three-cent stamp, and that was the postal rate for postcards from August 1958 to January 1963, which fits the time frame I would have guessed for this card anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mom and her brother in Texas

Today's family snapshot shows Mom (right) and her older brother, my Uncle Charles, playing together at the family home in Kingsville, Texas.1 Mom was born in January 1948, so I'm going to estimate this photo is from sometime in the first half of 1949.

Some observations:
  • What is that on the table between them? A terrarium?
  • The disorderly nature of the books and papers under the table makes me very uncomfortable.
  • One of the books features the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • My uncle's socks seem to match his shirt.
  • I think my sister might now have the chair that my uncle is kneeling on.

1. Interesting related tidbit: Reality Winner, who has been in the news quite a bit this year, grew up in Kingsville, Texas, after being born in nearby Alice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1920s postcard: Weymouth, The Sands & Donkeys

This postcard, which appears to have a postmark of July 28, 1924, features the busy summer beach scene at Weymouth, Dorset, Jurassic Coast, England. Some of the signs you can see, if you magnify the image, are AMERICAN STUDIO, ICE CREAM WAFERS, and NOTED ICES.

Weymouth has long been a tourist destination and resort. And donkeys have long been a part of that scene and are still present today. This website tells you all about Gracy, Dolly, Jasmine, Dainty and other current donkeys. The donkeys are also available for weddings and corporate weddings, but the website is sure to note that "the donkeys work 6 days a week, they take it in turns to have their day off."

The current donkeys, while still indentured, seem to have it better than past donkeys. On Victorian Tales from Weymouth and Portland, Susan Hogben noted the following in a 2013 blog post titled "Weymouth 1866. A cruel life for Victorian beach donkeys":
"The [current] donkeys on Weymouth sands are well cared for and much loved, they have their own umbrellas for shade, a proper lunch break, lots of cuddles and snacks. But life hadn’t always been kind to these gentle souls of the sands.

"In the Victorian local papers were numerous cases of cruelty by the owners and many of the young lads who used to be in charge of the rides on the beach. One of the cases in 1866 concerned 14-year-old Samuel Vincent, who was hauled before the local magistrates for cruelly mistreating a donkey. ...

"One of the donkeys was dragging his heels that day, lagging behind the rest of the group. The lad, carrying a large stick with him, was seen repeatedly beating the donkey on its hocks as hard as he could. That still not achieving what he wanted, he then proceeded to pick up large pebbles from the beach, throwing them at the donkeys legs, hitting them hard, causing the donkey to go lame.

"It seems that this wasn’t the first time Samuel had been observed beating the donkeys, nor was it just Samuel who was guilty of doing so. Many of other boys who worked for the donkey proprietor were guilty of cruelty towards these gentle beasts of the sands and found themselves hauled before the courts.

"The proprietor himself had been warned numerous times about the cases of cruelty observed towards his herd of little donkeys. Even the goats which were used to pull the carts along the promenade didn’t escape the beatings."
So sad. Please be kind to animals, everyone.

* * *
As for the back of this postcard, it was mailed with a red, one-penny stamp featuring King George V. The recipient was Miss A. Henderson, Townhill [?] Cooperative Society Ltd., Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland. The short note states:
"Dear Friend we are enjoying ourselves ... and having lovely weather down here. it's such a lovely place. hoping all are well at home.
from A.D."
I'm guessing that A.D. does not stand for "A Donkey," because that would be something.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Charles Simmons' cabinet card

Here's a standard 19th century cabinet card that features Charles Simmons (1847-1916). We're related. Charles was a brother of Helen Gregg Simmons Chandler, who was my great-grandmother Greta's mother. So I think that makes him my great-great-granduncle. (Genealogists, please chime in and tell me if there's a better way to phrase that.)

Charles didn't seem to stray far during his lifetime. He was born and died in Wilmington, Delaware. That's also where this photograph was taken, at J. Paul Brown's professional studio.

Charles died on December 22, 1916, and his wife, Mary, died less than three months later, on February 27, 1917. I don't have the full extent of their family tree in front of me, but I believe that Charles and Mary, at the very least, had a daughter named Elizabeth.

Just a coincidence, of course, but Mom and her brother are named Mary and Charles, and my sister's middle name is Elizabeth.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 21)

Presented without commentary, these are the final two pages of puzzles and games from "The Do-It-Yourself Book" portion of 1929's The New Human Interest Library. The text doesn't provide any instructions.

Up next will be a section titled The Comradeship Book, which will include coverage of Boy Rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and 4-H Clubs.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Plot thickens in Mom's attempts to escape summer camp

New evidence has emerged in the mystery of Mom's attempts to gain an early release from a summer camp nearly six decades ago.

Last week, I featured a cartoon postcard that Mom drew, pleading to her mother to come and rescue her from Camp Chesapeake in Maryland. That postcard, though compelling in its content, was never mailed.

But this newly discovered postcard was mailed.

Instead of using illustrations, Mom turned to prose to make her urgent case for emancipation from camp. Here's what her cursive note states:
Dear Mom
Please Come this sunday! I Want to go home! I get burns, sore throats, colds, horse throats and Lots of things like that! You gotta come I'm really getting more and More homesick each night. Please!
Mary M.
P.S. If you can't come I'll cry my heart out.
I'd say that's about a 9.5 out of 10 on the Child Melodrama Scale. Today, I reckon something like this would be sent in a series of text messages, with many emojis.

As I mentioned, this one was mailed successfully to their home in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. It was postmarked in North East, Maryland, on August 1, 1958 (a Friday). Mom was 10½ at the time.

I no longer have any way of confirming if Mom's pleas worked and earned her an early retrieval from camp. But I do believe that the following summer (1959) was her first year at Camp Lochearn, which she went on to love and enjoy for several years as a camper and counselor. So it's possible that Camp Chesapeake represented a single summer's discomfort before Mom found her perfect camp fit.