Weltschmerz in the park

February 25, 2010
Recently, Karen Resta of Postcards from the Dinner Table posted a series of postcards that conveyed a sense of weltschmerz.  She had been inspired by the style of posts at Unhappy Hipsters, and referenced two in particular, of which my favorite is this one.  Then, Evelyn Yvonne Theriault of A Canadian Family posted her idea of a weltschmerzian postcard.  My contribution is based on the definition of weltschmerz found in my tattered copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary 2nd edition:
Weltschmerz  n.  [G., world pain]  sentimental pessimism or melancholy over the state of the world. 

World-weary artist

Pierre set aside his palette and wandered away from the other artists, who were so gaily rendering their sunlit park scenes with little dots of cadmium yellow, bright green and cobalt blue.   The murmuring of the brook seemed to softly call his name, and he waded into the cool liquid as though stepping back in time.  His shimmering reflection reminded him of how much he had enjoyed painting impressions of the play of light across moving water; how he had guided the brush over the canvas with swift, long strokes.


The postcard that is the subject of this weltschmerz reverie is VIEW THROUGH SOUTH PARK, ROCHESTER, N. Y., an unused, undivided-back (printed before March 1, 1907, when the undivided-back postcard era ended) postcard published by The Hugh C. Leighton Company, Manufacturers, Portland, Maine, U. S. A. and Frankfort o/Main, Germany.  Number 10044.  South Park, in the City of Rochester, New York (Monroe County) is now called Genesee Valley Park.  South Park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. who also played a part (along with Daniel Burnham) in the landscape design of the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893.

Andersen’s Pea Soup

January 14, 2010

A piping-hot-bowl-of-split-pea-soup welcome to ~Postcards From The Dinner Table~ (PFTDT), the newest addition to the postcardiness Blogroll!  Karen Resta maintains this wonderful blogsite, writing with wit and imagination.  I found Postcards From The Dinner Table via Karen’s submission to A Festival of Postcards (6th ed.) — White, and had been meaning to add PFTDT to my Blogroll, and even had selected a welcome postcard to feature, but work and family obligations left little time.  However, I knew that today, January 14, 2010, was the day to make time to welcome PFTDT, because Karen features today the very postcard that I had chosen to post as a greeting:  Pea Soup Andersen’s!  So, like two peas in a pod, here is Pea Soup Andersen’s:  

Andersen's Pea Soup - obverse

Pea Soup Andersen's - obverse

Andersen's Pea Soup - reverse

Pea Soup Andersen's - reverse

But wait!  The PFTDT postcard and my postcard are not “two peas in a pod”!  The postcards are nearly identical, yes, but subtle variations can be seen.  Postcards can experience “genetic” variations, just like the variations that Gregor Mendel observed in his famous experiment with,,, you guessed it:  PEAS.  

According to the Mendelian system, the PFTDT postcard is the P or “Parental” generation postcard, since only one location is given for Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant:  Buellton, California,  43 miles north of Santa Barbara on U. S. Highway 101.  However, the postcard depicted above belongs to a later generation, since by the time it was printed there were three Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurants in California:  The original location in Buellton on U. S. Highway 101, north of Santa Barbara, a second location in Santa Nella, 65 miles south of Stockton on Interstate 5, and a third restaurant at Mammoth Lakes Village in Selma, situated in the High Sierras.  Since my postcard has a copyright date of 1976, the PFTDT example must be pre-1976.  

The original Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant is located at 376 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton, CA 93427-9704; phone: (805) 688-5581.  The address of the Santa Nella restaurant is 12411 State Hwy 33, Gustine, CA 95322-9792; telephone:  (209) 826-1685.  The Mountain Springs Valley location is no longer operating as a Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant, but leaves an enduring reminder of its former presence in Selma, California:  There is a short street named Pea Soup Andersen Boulevard, with two establishments addressed to it:  The Spike and Rail Steak House (2910 Pea Soup Andersen Boulevard) (formerly Pea Soup Andersen’s) and Holiday Inn Selma Swan Court (2950 Pea Soup Andersen Boulevard).  Update of July 24, 2010:  According to an employee of the Spike & Rail, the transfer from Pea Soup Andersen’s took place around 2001.  Some reviews on Yelp document that split pea soup is still featured on the menu!  Here is a photo of the restaurant at Mammoth Springs (taken after the name had changed from Pea Soup Andersen’s to Spike and Rail Steak House), showing the signature windmill architecture for which Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurants are noted. 

Fun facts:  Pea Soup Andersen’s has a facebook page.  The surname “Andersen” is often misspelled “Anderson”, yielding “Pea Soup Anderson’s”.   This postcard is published by Kolor View Press, based in Los Angeles, CA 90064 Printed in USA copyright 1976

There is so much more to write about this postcard, but duty calls.  Welcome Karen, of Postcards From The Dinner Table!

Update:  Karen has posted a recipe for split pea soup in the following three, consecutive posts:

Split pea soup recipe Part 1: Not Only Slow But Delightfully Lazy (Split Pea Soup)  I highly recommend a viewing of the YouTube video of Bisschen dies und bisschen das that is embedded in this post  Sheer fun!

Split pea soup recipe Part 2: On Not Being a Princess In the World of Pea Soups

Split pea soup recipe Part 3: Romancing the Pea in Any Given Soup has a simile-simmered story interwoven with the finale of the pea soup recipe.

U. S. Postal Card Club

December 13, 2009
U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Obverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

This is one of those postcards that is more interesting for its reverse (address/correspondence side) than for its obverse (picture side).  The obverse simply has the name Blanche in all capital letters, printed diagonally with a positive slope.  Each letter is solid green with a gold border and a brown shadow effect, and is decorated with a gold floral pattern sporting four-petaled red blossoms.  The background has a light green border that fades to white toward the center, and sports a gold floral accent in the upper-left corner that matches the design on the letters (sans the red coloration of the blossom petals).

Blanche, besides being a woman’s name, is also the French spelling of the word white.  Blanche was a more popular name around the turn of the twentieth century than it is at the present time, according to the chart on quickbabynames.com, dropping in popularity from around 0.5% of all births in the 1880s to under 0.005% of all births in the 1960s and succeeding decades.  If you are named Blanche and attending a large party, and somebody yells across the room, “Hi, Blanche!” the chances are pretty good that they are talking to you!

The reverse of this “Blanche” postcard has the following advertisement printed in black ink: 

NOTICE–The holder of this card is a MEMBER
of the U. S. P. C. Club, and is entitled to membership prices.
On receipt of 10c  Coin) we will mail you 8 of these up-to-date postal cards.
     Make your selection from the following list:   ORDER TODAY 

Love         Leave For      My Pet      How R. U.        Farewell
Stung       Will C. U.      Regards    Y. Don’t U.       Au Revoir
I love U.    Kisses          My Darling     U  R. E. Z.   Good Luck
Dream of Me                 Will U. Go        Kisses—Lovers Sweets
My Sweetheart              Best Wishes    Silence Gives Consent
I’m Waiting for You        Please Write    Better late than never
Congratulate U All         Will U Come      Birthday Greetings
Will Write U. From        Father’s Baby    Having a good time
I dream of thee             Sweet dreams    Many happy returns
Will U. B. Mine            My Honey Boy       With fond hope
Love me and I’m thine   We R All Well        Yours forever
Make money honest, but make it           Also all Popular Names. 

U. S. Postal Card Club, Williamson Bldg, Cleveland, O.
For correspondence 

U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Reverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

Some of the messages that a member of the Club could order are incredibly similar to typical 21st century text messages, especially in regards to the use of abbreviations!  The advertisement for the U. S. Postal Card Club takes up nearly half of the space usually allotted for the sender to write a message, so the printer added a solid line under the last line of the ad, with “For correspondence.” printed underneath the line.  It is apparent that the postcard would normally be printed without the advertisement, since the reverse of the card is printed in brown ink, whereas the ad is printed in black ink.  Another indication that the ad is an addition to the regular printed reverse is the presence of “For correspondence” [partially trimmed] — printed in brown ink — in the very upper left corner of the card, indicating that a postcard without the ad would have had the entire left side of the reverse available for a message. 

Many divided-back postcards have a vertical line separating the left side (message side) from the right side (address side).  However, some publishers use the vertical separator to print company or other pertinent information, and this postcard falls into the latter category.  If the card is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the text of the separator can be easily read: 

System Patent Pending.  Levaur Lithograph Post Card Co., Cleveland, O. 

The following text is inside the stamp box, which is delineated by dotted lines: 

Place Stamp

 Canada, Cuba
    Porto Rico
      1 Cent 

      2 Cents 

The remaining printing on the reverse consists of “POST CARD”  in a large bold sans-serif font and “This side for Address” underneath it, both being located to the left of the stamp box.  There are also four dotted lines on the address side of the reverse on which to pen the address of the intended recipient.  The last tidbit of printing is “No. 42”, located just above and to the right of the separator text.  That number makes at least some sort of sense, since there are forty obverse messsages listed in the ad, not including  “Also all Popular Names.” , to which the finger is pointing.  One can speculate that the obverse messages that a member of the Club could order might have been numbered 1 through 40, with perhaps mens’ names being No. 41 and womens’ names being No. 42.  Just a conjecture; input from readers is welcome! 

You might have noticed that the postcard is not perfectly rectangular.  This is because the top and both sides have been cut by the sender.  This postcard was enclosed in an envelope when mailed to the (unknown) recipient.  The proof that the postcard was mailed within an envelope is the presence of a faint embossed circle exactly the size of a postal mark on the obverse underneath the N of BLANCHE.  The circle is only faintly embossed; however, its presence can be tactilly detected as well as visually, but to be visible, the postcard must be held such that light reflects off of the obverse at just the right angle to reveal the blind-stamped postmark as a shiny circle.  The circle is shiny because its ever-so-slightly raised surface is more susceptible to rubbing than the rest of the matt surface of the obverse.  Apparently, postcards were inexpensive enough “back in the day” that they were sometimes used as stationery.  It might be fun to see if any of the postcards in your collection have this telltale sign of having been mailed under cover.  (A “cover” is a fancy term for an envelope that has been mailed, since the envelope covers the letter.)  My conjecture is that this postcard was trimmed by the sender so that it would fit in the envelope in which it was mailed. 

The sender, using a fountain pen with black ink, has written the following message: 

I, am sendïng Pa a lovely card to-day.  I, am sorry poor Carrie ïs gone.  And a hard horse master, Clark knows him well for he keeps him in Hay. 

This leaves Violet in Bed with a bad sore-throat & taking 3 kinds of medicine.  Hope Evelyne wïll soon be better.  I, am making the Girls light blue silk dresses for X’mas night to speak in.  Grace. 

Grace is most likely of German extraction, since she uses the umlaut diacritical mark over the letter “i” three times.  Her reference to Christmas indicates that the message was probably written in late November or in the month of December before the 25th.  However, the year the message was written remains a mystery, although it is very likely to have been written between 1907 and 1917.  This time frame is based on these parameters:  Divided back postcard, one cent domestic postage, and lack of white border around the obverse. 

Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether Grace was left- or right-handed? 

The Williamson Building, which the U. S. Postal Card Club called its home, was born with the 1900s, having been started in April, 1899 and completed one year later.  It was 17 stories tall, and was the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, among other prestigious tenants, per the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (link will open in a new window). <Begin funny thought>  A person having business for the first time with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland inquires at the front desk of the Williamson Building for its location.  The receptionist replies:  “The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland?  It is located on the fifth floor, just down the hall from the U. S. Postal Card Club.” <End funny thought>   The Williamson Building was sited on Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and is called “the monumental gateway to Euclid Avenue” by the encyclopedia cited above.  The building was demolished in 1982, but there are undoubtedly many postcard views that picture it. 

The most intriguing aspect of this postcard is the U. S. Postal Card Club.  I could find NO online information about this club, nor any info about the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company publisher.  Any information on the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company and the U. S. Postal Card Club would be most welcome.  Also, it might be fun as well as instructive to browse through your collection for postcards bearing any of the forty obverse messages that were available from the Club! 

This BLANCHE postcard is being submitted to the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, since the theme of this Festival is “white.”  Please do view the dazzling array of entries at Festival of Postcards (6th Ed.) – White!

Lucy the elephant

October 21, 2009

Lucy the Elephant as pictured on three postcards, each from a different postcard era.  The linen era postcard proclaims in the bottom border:   THE ONLY ELEPHANT IN THE WORLD YOU CAN GO THROUGH AND COME OUT ALIVE.   Lucy the Elephant (also known as the “Margate Elephant” or “Lucy the Margate Elephant”) was recently in the news; a tent that was blown from its moorings by high winds on September 11, 2009 gave Lucy a smack on her backside that broke her tail!  Hmmm, do you call a vet or an architect?    The 65-foot high wood and tin structure was struck by lightning (not for the first time) over the fourth of July weekend of 2011.  Update of November 1, 2012:  Lucy survived Hurricane Sandy intact, according to this news feature (includes aerial photo).  Lucy the Elephant was the brain-child of James V. Lafferty, a land developer who wanted to attract attention to his 1880s South Atlantic City (New Jersey) development project.  Two other mammoth elephant buildings were constructed around the same time:  The Elephantine Colossus was a truly massive building in the Coney Island amusment park in Coney Island, New York.  Over twice the size of Lucy the Elephant, if the Colossal Elephant could have lumbered into New York City and paraded to the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, it might have stood about a third or more the height of the Flatiron Building.  The Elephantine Colossus, also known as the Elephant Hotel, succumbed to a devastating fire in 1896.  A third elephant-shaped building, this one named The Light of Asia, was constructed at the site of another land development project, this one in South Cape May, New Jersy.  Here is an excerpt from lighthousefriends.com entry for Cape May, New Jersey:  “…the entire community of South Cape May fell victim to the encroaching waters of the Atlantic. A land developer named Theodore Reger purchased much of the shoreline between the lighthouse and the town of Cape May in 1882. Three years later, Reger had constructed a huge wooden and tin elephant, known as the Light of Asia, to attract interest in his development at South Cape May. For a dime, tourists could enter the elephant through its hind legs, climb a spiral staircase to a hall in its belly, and then proceed up a second set of stairs to the howdah or viewing platform on the elephant’s back. Several cottages were built in South Cape May, but erosion has wiped away almost all signs of human (and elephant) habitation, and the area is now the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge managed by the Nature Conservancy.”

Thus, Lucy the Elephant is the sole survivor of a memory of elephants in architectural form.

This architectural quadruped has been submitted into the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault. 

Elephant Hotel.  Divided back era - obverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided back era – obverse

Elephant Hotel.  Divided Era - reverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided Era – reverse

   The sender has written on the back of the post card this message:  “Dear Harry & all, I will send you this little fellow and you can play with him.  Hoping you are all well as we are the same.  From Earl V. Florence  ans. soon.”  The postcard is addressed to Master Harry Crouse, Aaronsburg, PA Center Co.   Since the postcard has not been postally used (no postage stamp and thus no postmark), There are only three possibilities:: 1.)  The postcard was hand delivered to Mr. Crouse, 2.)  It card was enclosed in an envelope containing a letter from Mr. Florence to Mr. Crouse or another person in the Crouse household, or 3.)  The postcard was never sent at all, so Harry Crouse would have never known of its existence.  This postcard is an example of what I term a “self-referential” postcard, since the written message contains a reference to the subject matter depicted on the front of the postcard.

Elephant Hotel. White border era.

Elephant Hotel. Linen era.

A tip of the hat

October 21, 2009

This inaugural entry in the postcardiness blog gives a tip of the hat to Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report show on Comedy Central for using some grammatical creative license to append the -ness suffix to nouns.  It was he who blew the dust off of the obscure word truthiness, and rejuvenated it in the lexicon of the English language, in “The Word”  segment on his very first show (October 17, 2005), four years ago last Saturday.  Truthiness was named the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society.  In this blog, I will explore the “-ness” of postcards, and relate the discoveries and stories that ensue.

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