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By Linda Emley
Two and one half years ago, I started writing my weekly column “If Postcards Could Talk” for the Richmond News. So much has changed in this short amount of time that I sometimes have a hard time remembering my life before I had two weekly deadlines to met.
As my editor and publisher know, it’s always down to the last minute before I come up with my next story. I’ll never run out of stories, because we have over 191 years of Ray County history and more history is being made with every new day.
The biggest problem that faces me each week is I’m a perfectionist at heart but since we live in a world that isn’t perfect, I need to learn how to draw the line somewhere. I’m always looking for one more fact that will make a story complete. I have many stories started, but can only finish one story at a time.
I started writing the Postcards columns because I wanted to help promote our local newspaper and help raise money for the Ray County Museum by selling reproduction postcards.
My quote in the Richmond News on April 15, 2010 was, “The museum will profit, and to me that’s a good cause.” I can’t say we’ve sold many postcards, but l hope my postcard stories have raised an awareness in Ray County that we have a beautiful museum that everyone needs to take time to enjoy.
My love of the Ray County Museum goes back to the 1980s when I spent many Sunday afternoons in the genealogical library researching my family history. The museum was open for only a few hours on Sunday afternoons and since I was a working girl, that was the only time I got to spend at the museum.
Many Sundays, I would be the only one there besides the caretaker who let me in the front door. Now years later, I am back on the hill most Sunday afternoons doing what I love most – reading old newspapers and looking for our past. I feel very lucky that I get to share all the wonderful stories I find involving the people of Ray County.
My collection of Richmond postcards is going to be on display at the Friends Gallery at the Farris Theater Arts District from Sept. 15 through Sept. 23.
The Gallery is the building on the corner of Camden and Franklin.
This exhibit is part of the 1st Annual Outlaw Days Festival, which is being held in Richmond on Sept. 22. I plan on taking in several of the shows and attractions that day, so everyone can stop by the Gallery and share memories of the good-old days as we look over my postcard collection.
The Farris Theater will also be showing Wild West movies on Sept. 22, so watch for more details on this special event.
My first postcard column appeared in the Richmond News on April 22, 2010. The following is part of that article that tells some of the history of postcards.
“When was the last time you opened your mailbox and found a postcard from a friend that said ‘Wish you were here?’ Postcards are becoming a thing of the past because today everyone sends pictures with a cell phone that shows what faraway place they are visiting.
“When I was young, we traveled a lot and I always mailed my grandmother a postcard. One trip she was with us and I mailed her a postcard anyway. I told her it was a good way to keep track of where we have been. I started mailing a postcard to myself and now I have a shoebox full of travel memories. My grandmother gave me my first two Richmond postcards and that started my hunt for more local postcards.
“I have over 80 different postcards of Richmond. There are at least 15 different series, most of which are from 1906 to the mid 1950s. I’m sure I don’t have all of them.
“People often asked where I got my postcards. I’m sad to say it’s on eBay. Most came from an estate sale in a different state. They were mailed from Richmond many years ago and now they have come home to stay. It cost a lot more to bring them back home than it did to send them on their first journey.
“Postage has gone up considerably, but the major cost is battling it out with my buddies on eBay. Sometimes you can get a common Richmond postcard for a couple of dollars. Then there are times that you have to draw the line when the price goes past $50.
“We have a mutual respect for each other because we all have the same goal of preserving our local history.
“Before we get started, I want to share a brief history of postcards because I think it helps us understand why postcards are a big part of our past. If you go back a hundred years, collecting postcards was one of the most popular hobbies in America. In 1908, 677,777,798 postcards were mailed in the U.S., at a time when the population was only 88,700,000.
“People in Richmond mailed postcards to friends and family in Hardin to tell them to come visit and then that person in Hardin would mail a postcard back to reply. “
Every decent family had a postcard album in the parlor. Many of these albums are sold at auctions and then the postcards are divided up and sold one by one. I can only hope my Richmond postcard collection is never sold or divided because it has taken many years and more money than I care to admit to create my “IF POSTCARDS COULD TALK” album.
Please come join us at the Friends Gallery Sept. 15-23 as we share our postcards from the past.
Have a story or Richmond postcard you’d like to share with Linda? You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.