Sunday, March 4, 2012

Don't Fade Away

After privately made postal cards were legalized in 1898, they were a craze, up to 1912.  Photographers and tourism sites benefitted.
What a difference colorization makes.  They were often done in Italy or India, and the actual colors were not known, so imagination reigned.
Stock or old B&W photos were colorized beginning in 1893.
"Dear Honey,
This is supposed to be down here some place But I don't know where

On the postcard's face side is a glossy black-and-white photo of Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Snitz got around.

He was Paul B. Johnston, who called Dalmatia Pennsylvania home (it's due north of Harrisburg along the river), but by the postcard record he and his family left behind from the 1940s through the 1960s, home was where their hats were.  You wouldn't think that ordinary small town folks would have been such travelers, but over the years they visited Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ausable Chasm in New York State, the Big Apple itself (including the Empire State Building and the U.N., of course), the St. Lawrence Seaway, a cabin in Sullivan County, PA (I've been in one there, and on the covered bridge depicted), Alabama, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, Waycross, GA, Florida many times ("it was about 120 degrees!") , and even Booger Hollow, Arkansas, which claimed a population of 7 countin' one coon dog.

World War II brought a lot of people out of their isolation in the countryside or within a square mile of a city, and took them to places they had never heard of.  Some, with cars newly available and small travel trailers, wanted to see this bigger world after 1945 and enjoyed sending back pictures of where they were to the home folks and how they wished they were there too.  Some G.I.s had passed through Hawaii or California, and didn't go home at all after discharge -- they wanted to live that postcard picture.

Paul B. spent 1944 at Camp Croft, South Carolina, writing to Mrs. Paul B. (mother? wife? hard to tell); the last one was obviously written in a hurry and began, "Honey get the coffee & Hot Dogs on the stove I'll be there to eat them before you know it tell Butchie to watch the Busses & I'll surprise him & step off of one..."  The area is a peaceful state park now, but was an infantry replacement training center then, whose graduates could well have expected short careers (the vets often survived, the green replacements didn't).  Paul B. got lucky somehow and returned home to those hot dogs and many memorable vacations.  A year earlier, in 1943, one L. A. Johnston sent a card home from the U.S. Naval Training Station at Sampson, NY, advising Paul "if they call you, you better join the Navy."  The last military-related card was sent in 1961, when the family received it from SGT Michael Weiss at Grafenwohr, Germany, saying he missed being home for Christmas, but appreciated their card.

Paul B. might have worked, when not traveling, for Capitol Iron & Steel in Harrisburg since a pocket memo booklet from that company was with the bag of old postcards all these were in.  The writer kept gas mileage records and three pages are taken up with notes on car purchasing: a Dodge with vinyl roof (1970s?) and air conditioning, payments after trade-in of $88 a month at 5.5% interest.  A "four-door automatic," brand unknown, at Keith Motors in Newport, PA was also under consideration.  It sported undercoating, a hood pad, plus the radio and light groups; $2250.  Whichever one, it probably was on its way to Florida within the year.

I wish there were a date on a unique nine-panel panoramic super post card depicting, in saturated full color, Bayfront Park in Miami.  It was more of a souvenir, not written on or meant to be mailed.  Surely, the printed caption deserves a quote:  "The great Pan American Airways System has its terminal here.  Its huge Clipper Ships make regular trips to the countries of South America, Havana and the West Indies.  Miami is truly a City of Allurement, whose spell enthralls all who have proved its charms and joy of life."  (Produced by the Eli Witt Cigar & Tobacco Co., Miami).  They could have used an editor at Witt, but the photo is luscious.

Believe it or not, a major postcard dealer has a card sent by Paul B. Johnston in 1966 depicting the Hershey Chocolate plant (  It's yours for $1.

Snitz sure got around.


  1. WOW ! this is so beautiful photographs and its nice post. Stock or old B&W photos were colorized beginning in 1893 its nice stock Photo.....

  2. Wonderful! You have to write a postcard history of your adventures around the world.