Sunday, October 24, 2010

Greetings From the Past!

I just got a box of over three-hundred vintage greeting cards at a barn sale for seven bucks. I probably coulda haggled them down by half, but it seemed vaguely disrespectful. They were sent to one family--the sellers I presume--here in NE Ohio. They are mainly 1940's-60's with a few late 30's or early 70's (someone incredibly organized has dated many of them), with more than two-thirds of them Christmas cards. Pretty much all of them are written in, sometimes at length with the personal news you'd expect to find in holiday cards. There are many unique ones--pop-ups, textured, personalized, one with bells attached, one featuring a clump of hair on a man's chest (my wife just about gagged when I showed it to her), even one from 1949 which uses an optical illusion to reproduce a moving television screen picture (Santa banging away on a piano while a dog's ears and tail wiggle).

There's a card from 1944 sent by a soldier overseas, a Cub Scout card given by a den mother, one that includes a small plastic bubble containing "soil from the Holy Land," and one that's a cellophane-windowed envelope which holds a "North Pole Insurance Co." policy insuring the holder for Christmas joy and a year of prosperity.

There's a card from 1950 featuring a "new-fangled" jet flying overhead. There's a personalized one that uses the art of "Grin and Bear It" artist George Lichty, with different individual drawings representing family members (i.e., a little boy dressed as a cowboy is captioned as "Paul Jr." and the family's teen girl is a bobby-soxer dancing to 45's). It even features the sender's address. There's a really cool one depicting Santa and Rudolph sailing over the earth in a satellite (speaking of new-fangled), with the U.S. seen below. The sender's hometown of Canton, Ohio is custom-printed in, with various cities with Christmas-related names printed around it. I just noticed one is "Gay, GA." Thinking surely they changed the name in the late 70's, I Googled the town, and immediately found that Gay Road leads right to Cotton-Pickin' Fairs. There's no joke there, but I enjoy it anyway.

There's another with Santa and Baby New Year cavorting in only hats, with towels over their asses. It says "HOT or COLD / YOUNG or OLD THIS COVERS EVERYTHING!" I don't get it. I just hope there was a sauna involved. Any other explanation portends a lousy year.

And I don't know if you're aware of a certain connotion for the word "zoo," but I can tell you it makes this card way creepy.

I wish I had the time to scan almost all of them, so many cool ones. Birthdays, Easter, weddings, anniversaries and births, get well and sympathy, valentines, religious, Father's and Mother's Day, even a few of those tiny children's birthday party invitations.

Maybe I'll get some of the written notes on here, but taken individually they seemed pretty banal for the most part; it's when you see the bigger picture that they become interesting. For instance, one of the grandmothers sent many cards, particularly religious birthday cards, but rarely wrote a personal sentiment. Then, one year, she inexplicably shares a pointless story of being given a lift to a shopping center. I bet she was a load of laughs.

Hopefully, for the yule season, I'll get some of the more striking examples on here. I think some of them are really kinda beautiful...