You all know how much I love finding old things, peeking into the past, and memorabilia, right? I mean half the time when I write in my journal or here or put a picture in an album I’m thinking about my kids as adults, or future generations, looking at it and marveling at the past. This weekend I took a look at a scrapbook (I’d say discovered but I did see it once years ago, so perhaps re-discovered) that Paul’s mother made in 1948. She was a young woman at the time and seriously ill and in the hospital. Details on the illness, surgery, and length of time are vague, and she’s no longer alive to ask about it. She kept a scrapbook of the time, which includes all the notes and cards she received, a Western Union telegram (how thoughtful of her to paste that in, along with its envelope so that 66 years later I could marvel at it), and various dedicated mass cards. I especially liked one of the first items, which was the hospital visitors pass issued to her upon arrival and on which the hospital attendant had written “to be operated” under the reason for visit. But let’s get to the cards, which are amazing and I couldn’t stop reading and talking about.
Get well cards in 1948 were a completely different game than in 2014. First of all, how many different ones do you see in the card store? Not that many. In this scrapbook there are dozens of different ones.
So much variety! There were only 2 cards that there multiples of. And the styles!! Whimsical, vaguely naughty, currently offensive (the Native American one with the teepee that starts out “Ugh! I heard-um you sick”), pretty, and punny. Kittens, puppies, and children were very popular. And feather decorations, too. And many of them very specifically addressed being in the hospital or having an operation.
Verses with puns seemed to be very much in style, even when they had to be stretched quite a bit.
I also noticed that the senders of the cards were fond of unnecessary quotation marks, often putting them around their own names. I think the next time I sign a card I’ll sign it Affectionately, “Sarah”
Reading all the cards brought up an image of a different card industry where someone might work in a bustling greeting card office coming up with all these silly verses day after day. I have to say-I would love to buy cards like these. And I’m sure comparatively they were much less expensive than a card today-they are all printed on rather thin paper.
Besides the funny cards, there were also very beautiful cards with bluebirds, flowers, and charming scenes. I don’t know if Paul’s mother ever fondly looked back at her scrapbook, but I’m so glad it was saved, and not just for having a laugh at vintage greeting cards. It really is a look at a different time, and it’s nice to see that people took the time to drop these cards in the mail to say “Thinking of you.” (Or, “you’re too nice to decorate a pillow”) They weren’t overthought, probably easily picked up at the corner store, and they sent a sweet message.