As part of the non-fiction book I am writing, I've been reading this book by Thomas J. Schlereth. (ISBN-13: 978-0065023695) I'll be reporting on it here more at length when I've finished it - it's that fascinating! But it is also quite sobering in places. He writes of the time in America just after the Civil War and before World War I: two wars which decimated whole countries and served as terrible demarcations in terms of what was and what came next.
One thing that was far more commonplace and visible on a daily basis was death. With the Internet and social media scene we are seeing a kind of resurgence of the willingness to see death and experience it (or at least memorialize it) in a more public fashion. Still, it gave me considerable pause to come across this postcard in one of my favorite antiques shop the other day.
TRANSCRIPTIONThursday, September 10th, 1908Dear Cousin Agnes: With sorrow must say that sister Mary's darling Esther died this morning and will be buried most likely Saturday. Your cousin
With postal games like Postcrossing, and even my own Fictional Correspondences, the use of postcards in play has been revived. But it was not always so that a postcard was for fun. Postage costs and custom in earlier times might mean very serious information traveled by way of a postcard rather than an envelope-enclosed. Here a family's loss is briefly shared.
The choice of card is a curious one. It was the ornate image that first caught my eye in the very full box of cards. How very tender it was to hold in my hand a missive -- 104 years old -- of such personal nature. Requiescat in pace little Esther.