Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weather is here. Wish you were fine.

By Mike Crawmer

Thursday evening I’ll be packing for a beach vacation. Into the suitcase will go my swimming trunks, sandals, shorts, t-shirts, suntan lotion, paperbacks, umbrella (the advanced forecast isn’t very promising!) and, paper-clipped to a list of names and addresses, some postcard stamps.

Yep, I send postcards. An anachronism, I know, but I haven’t come up with a good reason for ending an old habit. It all started the summer I spent with an aunt in Tucson. It was my first long-distance trip (via un-air-conditioned bus in those pre-freeway days) and my first exposure to an exotic land. My family probably got tired of the same scenes—cacti, old Spanish missions, cemetery in Tombstone—but I never got tired of sending postcards, filled in tiny script with my latest adventures.

I also like to receive postcards. Travel by proxy, you could call it. At a holiday party last December I met some Pitt researchers who were traveling in January to India for a conference. I discovered that one of them shared my love of postcards. She took my address and promised to send me a card. It arrived in late February. It was a standard view of one of my favorite buildings, the Taj Mahal; the card is tacked on the corkboard above my desk.

While in the military, I graduated from postcards to letter writing. But many letters I sent included postcards—think of it as a photo attachment to an e-mail message, only slower in delivery and touchable. Back then my handwriting was legible, and I had more to say than would fit on a card. One letter about a trip to Italy ran 12 pages long. I had fun writing it, though I’m not sure anyone but my Mom ever read the whole thing. (I’m not even sure she did.)

On last month’s bicycle ride around the Finger Lakes, I stopped in an antique store in Trumansburg (near Ithaca). The owner, who remembered me from my first visit there in 2005, told me (again) that he didn’t have any egg cups (which I collect). Why don’t I collect something else, he asked, leading me to several trays filled with antique postcards. (How did he know?) I walked out a half hour later, the proud owner of two 1907 views of downtown Pittsburgh. One card set me back $7 because all the vehicles on Fifth Avenue were horse drawn—no cars yet.

Any other postcard fans out there? If so, and you want a card from sunny (or wet) Carolina Beach, let me know. More than happy to add you to my mailing list. And if you’re taking a trip to an exotic land (any place outside southwestern PA qualifies), I’d love to get a card from you.


Tory said...

When I used to go to Hawaii regularly I sent postcards. Now I don't go any place really worth sending them from. (Sigh.)

I remember sending some Hawaiian postcards with a joke. "What do you call a surfer without a girlfriend?" "Homeless."

Joyce said...

I used to buy postcards (as souvenirs), but not send them, then a few years later end up throwing them out because they were cluttering up a drawer.

It's so much easier now to take a bunch of digital photos and email them to everyone.

Not quite the same, I know. Enjoy your trip!

Annette said...

I used to collect (and send) postcards. I don't know when or why I stopped. Maybe it was when they started arriving in friends' mailboxes weeks after we'd returned home. An exaggeration, perhaps. But the darned things are sloooowww. So now, like Joyce, I tend to do the digital postcard version.

Have a great trip, Mike. Stay dry. And I would be deeply honored to be included on your mailing list.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Mike, I'm not a postcard junkie, but I do remember the first and second postcards I ever sent. One was from boyscout camp to my parents. I think they made us do it.

The next one, oddly enough, was from Hawaii, while on my honeymoon. It was also sent to my parents. It's almost exactly 31 years later and I still remember the picture of Hanauma Bay Beach Park.

Gina said...

Have fun at the beach, Mike.

I still send postcards, sometimes, although usually only from abroad and then they seem to take forever to arrive. I like to receive postcards, though, and prop them up on the mantle for awhile to look at. I tend to not throw things away, so I still have old postcards stashed various places, although I've never actually "collected" postcards. Rather than place mementos, the postcards tend to be with other things (letters, cards, etc.) from particular friends.

What I do collect are refrigerator magnets from places I've been -- they're small and cheap and easy to display.

mike said...

Gina, we collect fridge magnets too. In fact, we're running out of freezer door space...soon they'll be creeping down to the main door unless we stop the madness!

You're on my list, Annette. I'll look for something with a horse theme. On the beach? Hmmm....

Annette said...

Thanks, Mike! But I'll be happy with whatever you find. I've never been to the Carolinas.

Anonymous said...

I send postcards. I send them from travel destinations (and it doesn’t matter if I’m on a vacation or just visiting relatives). I send them from home. I send them just for fun and to stay in touch. I used to buy them in bulk.

We just moved to Kansas. I haven’t seen any scenic postcards yet, but I did mail everyone a change-of-address card :-)


kathie said...

YOur postcards sound wonderful! How big is your collection?

Peggy said...

Wow…. You are going for a beach holiday trip, it's great.