Reliving the joy of the postcard
Postcards find their place, while sparking memories of telegrams for Alan Carlton
ON a recent holiday I saw something strange. Postcards for sale. I couldn’t resist buying some. My memory told me postcards need stamps. I was then told we don’t sell stamps. You have to buy stamps elsewhere. She told me where to buy stamps.
I returned to my holiday room. The postcards gave me a standard picture, the same picture as everybody else. They gave me a space which told me how many words I could write. I wondered how to address them. What are the addresses of these grandkids? I could send them an email and ask them their address.
I find a shop selling stamps. The stamps have very tiny, beautiful pictures on them and I manage to fix them to the cards, in the right place and up the right way. The lady says, “To post them you have to exit the front door, turn right and you will see a post box.”
After sending the postcards I send a group email to my grandkids. I include a photo of grandma. I tell them in the email they will receive a postcard. Watch out for it arriving in your letter box. I receive an instantaneous reply.
Every day I send group emails to my grandkids. The amount of words varies. Most days I add a photo. A photo I have taken. Grandma FaceTimes the kids. She talks to them. Somehow I have to explain to them what a postcard is and how popular they used to be. I can’t imagine them seeing numerous advantages in postcards. I can’t imagine postcards becoming the latest craze.
Loitering in a souvenir shop the advantages manifest. We now see a souvenir we can buy that they will use. A fridge magnet for affixing postcards.
When we return my grandkids excitedly greet us and say, “Look what I got.”
They love their postcards. They show me their fridge and its adornments. They all want their postcard to be the highest. Even better is the day after we arrive back in Hobart. More postcards mysteriously arrive. We watch them retrieve the postcards from the letterbox. They love them and love displaying them. I suspect one of them took a postcard to school for show and tell.
As I watch them use their fridge magnets my thoughts move to telegrams. I could tell them the story of when I first worked overseas 40 years ago. International phone calls were very expensive and involved a lot of planning. They were special. They were not spontaneous and routine.
One day I returned to my place of residence. A telegram was waiting. I thought I’m not opening that. Telegrams are always bad news. I put the telegram on the mantelpiece and stared at it. I left it there for at least a day. Eventually I thought I had better open it. Must know the truth.
The telegram said, “Happy birthday.” Even though it was a day late I was mightily relieved. Not all telegrams are bad news. I never thought that one day telegrams would cease to exist. A more effective way to communicate with other distant people will exist.
Slide nights have gone the same way. When young a few of my cousins made the trip by boat back to the “Mother Country.” They returned a few years later with a box of slides. A slide night was arranged.
A slide projector was fiddled with, a screen hung and everybody seated suitably.
And then it began. Every slide had a story. Sometimes the story was told by my uncle who had remained home. That didn’t stop him. Slide nights have gone the way of telegrams. It’s assumed everybody has already seen everything on Facebook.
My turn to travel arrived. Being a dentist I didn’t go to England. I listened to older dentists and they said don’t go. If you go to England, work on the NHS, your work will go downhill. I went elsewhere. And I found wherever I went they sold postcards.