Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Postcards from the Coop

Several years ago--before we had our own flock in the backyard--I started collecting postcards illustrated with chickens. Most date from about 1908-1913. They are tucked in with Easter decorations, and I pull them out every spring and stack them in a basket on our dining room sideboard. I've not yet figured out a creative way to display them, so they sit there by the door as if they just arrived in today's mail. They're of the same era as our house, and I like both the nostalgic images and the sentiments expressed on them.

This was a time when hens in a backyard were probably more common than not, and definitely not the novelty our little urban flock is. I always wonder why the sender chose a postcard depicting chickens, over the rabbits and eggs and flowers that decorated other Easter postcards of the time. I like to think it was an affection for chickens.

I feel some guilty pleasure in reading the messages on back.

Usually the messages are simply "How are you?" or "Happy Easter". They are like split-second time travel, quick scrawled messages that remind me of pre-electronic text messages. Not much room to write, just a quick reminder or message:

"Maurice -- Can't tell yet what time I will be home. Not before the 9 o'clock train anyway -- but sometime to-morrow night. Bertha"

Dear Effie -- Say, I am waiting for a letter saying when you are coming to stay with us. I am going to stay at home now for Stanton hired Elmert Ruch. Grandma R is awful bad don't think she will last long. Bobby Kerry is getting better. Ota. 

Dear Augusta -- How are you all. We are all quite well. Only a bad cold. Am sorry I did not write sooner. I tho't sure it was your turn to write or else I would of wrote. Etta 

To Mildred in New York: Wishing you a happy Easter. --Mother. Don't forget my pocketbook.

Dear Brother Emil -- I thought I would drop you a note to let you know the price of that house. They want $2,000 cash because they have got to sell it cash because the people want their money and it has to be divided between them. Miss Sutter and I got in Fort Wayne all OK. We had some trip. Ha. Ha. - Clarence

Hello Joe-- I received your card last week and am anxious to know what "smart remark" you will make about this card. Doubtless you are very hard to please, but I will try to send some cards to please you. Write soon. E

Hello Gertrude -- Guess who? Look under the stamp. O you kid I'll get you yet. PDQ.  And beneath the still barely affixed stamp, the sender wrote, "String Rubber."

They make me nostalgic for a time when correspondence was deliberate and conscious and chickens roamed a backyard or a small farm as part of the fabric of everyday life.


  1. Love the post cards! Happy Easter...don't forget my pocketbook made me laugh!

  2. Lol -- such a "mom" comment, it made me laugh too. Happy Easter to you, too. :-)