Country Woman

Postcard Connection


Iwas a young girl the first time my mother took me to visit my maternal Great-Aunt Julia. She also lived in Janesville, Wisconsin, as we did, and her house was like a museum, filled with the treasures she inherited over the years.

As she showed me some of her many keepsakes, I remember feeling a true and definite connection to the past for the first time.

Years later I inherited Julia’s vintage holiday postcard collection, and it continues to make me feel as if I’m part of a bigger picture every time I bring it out to look at it. Most of the postcards are blank on the back, but some have handwritte­n messages and postmarks from the early 1900s, when stamps were 1 cent! Julia received those cards from her brothers, Harvey and George, and a cousin, Eustacia. Others appear to have been sent by Julia’s classmates, friends and co-workers.

Some are addressed to my Great-Grandmothe­r Nellie and to Julia’s sister, Josie. Their notes back and forth give me a glimpse into what my relatives were like and how they lived.

There are 275 holiday postcards in Julia’s collection, celebratin­g New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. My favorites are the Valentine and Christmas postcards because they are the most colorful, but the few Halloween postcards I have also stand out. Those greetings are more rare than Christmas or other holidays, and so they are more collectibl­e.

The older I get, the more I appreciate items that have been passed down from those who have gone before. Julia’s postcards are precious to me, not only because Julia treasured them, but because they remind me that I’m part of her story—one told partly on the back of a penny postcard.

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