Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Postcard...101 Years Later

As many of you who read the blog are already I aware, I live in a giant old house filled to the rafters with stuff. I use the word stuff, because this matter that occupies most of my house can't really be classified as "junk" or "crap" or even "flotsam and jetsam" of dry's history.  It's my family's history, deposited here over the years and now it's an archive of American history.  And so it was in this archive that I was cleaning yesterday and came across my great-grandpa's collection of post cards from the turn of the last century.  My eye happened upon this very pretty one...

Postmarked November 14th, 1910

This postcard is 101 years old today.  It was sent from my great-great-aunt Anna Braun to her brother, my great-grandpa Edmond Braun.  For those who cannot read the tiny pencil script I have transcribed it for you...

Dear Brother,

Received your letter yesterday, was perfectly horrified to hear that H. [their sister Helen] had scarlet fever but am glad it is only a light fever.  Hope Willie [their little brother] won't take it and still maybe it would be better for him to have it now too as he will never have better care than at present and while he is small too.  Let us know any news you get from them and please address my mail to [unreadable].  I go to the post office about every other day so I would get it about as soon as from there and then if any more is said about ________ John won't know about it because he can hardly but read them when he brings the letters from the P.O. [post office] and wants to.


So just to clarify a few things here is the back story on this post card.  My great-grandpa was living in Barstow at the time this letter was sent.  He was living in a cave outside of town while working as a brakeman for the railroad.  His elder half-sister Anna was living in Grand Junction, Colorado with their other sister Helen and her postman husband John Chalmers.  So when Anna refers to John hardly being able "to help but read the letters" she is referring to him apparently reading all of the postcards he delivered before he actually delivered them.  Helen, who was married to the nosy postman was away in Napa Valley at this time visiting their mother Rosa who was living with their two youngest half siblings Willie and Theodora (Teddy) at the Elmshaven Estate in St. Helena, California.  Anyhow, obviously they didn't want John to know that his darling wife Helen was sick with scarlet fever all the way in California so they conspired to keep it from him.  Now for those who are concerned about Helen's fate...she recovered and lived to be 78 years old.  So all is well that ends well.  

Now for those who would like a visual to go with the players in our story here they are:

From Left to Right Back Row:  Anna, Ernest and Helen Braun
Center Row: Wilhelm Rieke and Rosa Rieke
Bottom Row:  Theodora, Edmond Davis-Braun and William Rieke

Ed Braun - the recipient of the postcard

Anna Braun Overman - the writer of the

Helen Braun Chalmers - the "H"
with scarlet fever in the letter

Willie Rieke - the younger
brother who may have benefited
from scarlet fever but never actually
got it.

Rosa Goerke Braun Davis Rieke -
the mother who never got Scarlet Fever either

John Chalmers and daughter Clarice
I was lucky enough to find this old cyanotype of John Chalmers with a postcard in hand, holding his mail pouch, with his daughter Clarice riding inside, in his postal uniform.  Before facebook we sent postcards with little tid bits of information to show proof of life to our loved ones who were far far away.  So maybe time or at least people haven't really changed that much at all.

And here is proof that Helen lived to be 78...
So 101 years later I guess these people, though long gone, are not forgotten...if only because they left this little post card behind that gives us a window into their world.

1 comment:

Santi ... said...

Whitny, that was beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing! I enjoyed the way you described eveyone and their roles. It would've otherwise been a bit hard to follow and perhaps trying to focus on making all the connections would've taken away from the story. You made it all fit. I'm sure all your fans appreciate it. I look forward to helping with the discovery of further treasures. :)