Postcards: relics of the past

Postcards: relics of the past

 

By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR, RVTRAVEL.COM
Go back 100 years. Just imagine: there were no RVs and only a few primitive cars with few roads to travel. There was no television and only the very beginnings of movies. Hardly anybody owned a camera, and the handful who did shot in black and white. There was no Travel Channel, fancy travel magazines or countless travel websites.

So wherever you lived, the rest of your country — as well as the world — was an unknown, mysterious place.

Then, right around the turn of the 20th century, postcards appeared. They became popular after they were distributed at Chicago’s Columbia Exposition in 1893. In 1908, 677 million were mailed.

The first postcards were in black and white. Then hand-coloring was added. Imagine what it was like to receive a postcard 100 years ago, when there were very few ways to see faraway places. I bet those cards were treated as treasures.

I bring this up because I found a box of old postcards the other day. I especially like the colorized ones from the ’40s and ’50s.

Now fast forward to today. Nobody needs postcards anymore. We email digital photos from our phones or post them on Facebook. We’ve seen every corner of the world in living color on TV and websites, in movies, on YouTube and in newspapers and magazines. Our neighbors return home with blow-by-blow videos of where they traveled.

I quit sending postcards years ago. I made an exception on a recent trip to Germany when I mailed one to my daughter. By the time she received it a week later I had emailed her dozens of digital photos and video chatted with her live on Skype. I felt no need to send her a card saying “Having a good time. Wish you were here.”

For decades, postcards introduced the world to many people. Today, they are curiosities. I bet tourist shops sell a fraction of what they did in the olden days.

Here’s another commentary about postcards, written by RV Travel reader Skip Kazmarek. Coincidentally, he wrote it about the same time he read this post, so he references it in his thoughtful essay.

 

#414; #RVT782

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7 thoughts on “Postcards: relics of the past

  1. Julie

    We gave our grandkids each a photo album to keep them in and they have fun looking through them with us when we visit!

  2. Julie

    We send postcards to our grandkids and friends…but we make our own! We use pictures of the places we have been, beautiful sunsets, gorgeous plants, etc and we print them on a little printer we keep in the motorhome. We also use photoshop to put our dogs in the picture or an Elvis figure we have! Everyone loves them and we love making them. Wish I could post one here for you to see!

  3. Rusty Austin

    In 2011 I decided to send out every postcard in my collection to all my friends with poems like I want to sing I want dance I want to wear a new pair of pants and like that. I sent every one, including all the souvenirs like from Mt St Helens Paris Moscow etc. I am still doing that today, I’ll buy a dozen every now and again and I keep a full roll of postcard stamps. I even send them to my nephews in Tasmanis. It’s a lot of fun. The Carrot is orange and crunchy and you should eat one if you feel munchy…

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Rusty, what a great idea!!

  4. Joan

    I rarely send postcards but my cousin and his wife are world travelers and occasionally send them to me. It does make you feel, ” isn’t that nice. They thought about me.”

  5. Gale Walton

    We have started sending postcards to our grandchildren when we are traveling. It’s a nice way to stay in touch plus they have keepsakes from us and get very excited when they get mail! Writing to a six month old is interesting but it can be done. We don’t worry about bringing home a surprise for them. After all we have seven, that could get expensive!

  6. Mike

    We often still send postcards to the kids and I try to send one from each major trip to my doctor as a thank you for keeping me alive and healthy so I can take these RV trips!

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