Are you by chance, old enough to remember penny postcards? Or 3 cent postcards or a nickel? Time was, these were as common in everyday life as the newspaper. You could go to the post office, get a pre-stamped postcard, address it and write a brief message and it would be delivered anywhere in the country for a penny. It’s really hard to imagine these days.
We have an archive of letters and correspondence that goes back decades here.
One of the treasures is a penny postcard sent in 1945 that a son sent to his mother announcing the birth of his baby daughter.
It struck me as odd that the son would communicate with his mother on such a momentous occasion with an impersonal method when she lived only 20 miles away!
The lovely lady whose birth was being heralded by that postcard is nearing the end of her 40 year career at our company and I asked her how it came to pass that her father wrote to her grandmother in such a cold manner. Her reply was illustrative of even my inability to comprehend the times.
First of all, she was the fifth baby in the family, so she was old news. The family, while not poor, did not have much money for frivolities such as long distance phone calls which were outrageously expensive back then. Oh, and they did not yet have a phone.
In 1945 gas rationing from the war was still in effect and driving the 20 miles to deliver the news in person was out of the question. Given all the above, her pragmatic father and equally understanding grandmother would have thought nothing of announcing her birth in this fashion, with a penny postcard in the mailbox.
She even pointed out that it was well expected that the postman and everybody at the
Post Office would have read the card and that most of the small town would have heard the news well before Grandma got the card.
They seemed to do just fine without text messaging, didn’t they?
The card is addressed to
Mrs. Almer Hormel of 930 E Monroe St in Kokomo Indiana.
Note: There was no such thing as Zip Codes in 1945.
The 1cent “stamp”, which is actually preprinted directly on the card, was postmarked and cancelled in Forest, Indiana Aug 28, 1945.
Augth (sic) 28.Tues morn
Bulah Joyce arrived at 3:05 this morning. Geneva and baby are getting along OK.
Baby weigh 8 1/2 lbs.
Most endearing it was written in pencil. You can almost see him hurriedly borrowing a pencil from the postmaster who ran the one man Post Office in Forest. Probably a high school buddy of his. Norman Rockwell would have loved this.