Monday, April 1, 2019

"You're gonna meet some gentle people there"

I love the psychedelic color and design of this postcard, which was delivered to my big black mailbox courtesy of Wendyvee. While it may partially evoke the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, head shops, folks with guitars on their backs, blacklight posters and, of course, flowers in one's hair, I think this scene comes after the October 1967 "funeral" for the Summer of Love and after many had grabbed their copy of the Whole Earth Catalog and gone off to participate in the back-to-the-land movement. The young adults on the street car here appear to be 1970s proto-yuppies, and they've probably hidden their Grateful Dead albums, if they ever had them at all.

According to the back of the postcard, this is a Mike Roberts photograph. He was known as "America’s Postcard King." He spent more than a half-century snapping pictures and a tiny fraction of his work is celebrated in Wish You Were Here, written by his son, Bob Roberts. Mike Roberts (1905-1989) was a self-taught photographer who left home at age 16 with a box camera; he went on to shoot photographs for the 1939 World's Fair before a gig taking photographs for Standard Oil evolved into his full-time postcard profession.

One of his iconic postcards, per AI-AP's David Schonauer, was "a color photo of Alcatraz, surrounded by the blue of San Francisco Bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Adorning the image, in script typeface, are the immortal words, 'Wish you were here!'"

In addition to the AI-AP article, you can learn more about Roberts at Huffpost and The Image Flow.

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