George Washington’s profile pasted to the corner of the cards says 1 cent , or in some cases 2 cents . He’s red or he’s green and he remains stern , or perhaps it is better said as stalwart and strong , in a one-dimensional way. Sorry , George .
I’ve been processing World War postcards . Some are scrawled with messages and some are blank . My mind wanders as I write descriptions of the cards and scan them into the data bank for the museum .
I have begun to wonder who these people are . I might say , rather , who they were , but for the moments I am with the cards I feel a little like a peeping Tom , watching when I shouldn’t be . None of my business .
I wonder how Gladis Hitchcock in Allegheny , N.Y. , felt when she read the card back in July of 1918 . Was she steamed or did she laugh ? Did she feel sorry for the poor dope who wrote :
How are you today . I am in Cuba today. There are lots of girls up here . It doesn’t take long to get acquainted . XXXX Guess who its from . “
Another card has a photograph of a soldier and a girl hugging . She gazes at him lovingly . His rifle leans against a log . He wears a wide-brimmed campaign hat of the era . Printed words on the card say : I Believe In Being Well-Armed .
Lots of the cards have sappy poems printed on the front .
When you’re on guard / and campfires burn / I’ll guard my heart / ‘Till your return .
Mrs. Ethel M. Howe , of Penacock , NH , gets a mere ” best regards ” . Better than nothing , I guess .
One soldier writes : ” I guess you have a nice fellow to take you home from church now .” I see him over in France , perhaps , writing the forlorn note to his girl , and wondering how things are at home , and worrying . But he wrote her , and he revealed his feelings , after all . Maybe she got the message , and I only wish the best for them . I think that they married later and had loads of children , and then grandchildren , and great-grandchildren . If he came back from the war, and if she didn’t stick with some other fellow , nice or not .
People were writing one another then , on daffy , melodramatic , romantic , and patriotic postcards . Often the cards were sent General Delivery , with no specified street address . To Jamie O’Grady in Tulsa , Oklahoma . To Mary Swartz in Brooklyn , NY .
And now a few of them wind up in a little museum in Arcadia , CA . Some nosey old guy reads them and inspects them and notes the date , the time of delivery , the cost of the stamp . He reads the scrawled messages and wonders how it all came out in the long run . Did the romances last ? Did she wait for him with love in her heart , or was it all just a passing passion ?
One soldier writes from a hospital : It is about time for dinner now . Don’t know what we’ll have yet . Last Sunday we had chicken and ice cream . My arm did not take at all yet and I don’t think it ever will .
Good luck , soldier ! Don’t give up hope .