Business,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Logistics,  Social,  Travel,  Weather

Good Company and Weather; Bad Connections and Mail

Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, cards 25-26

No. 6916-Series B. Log Bridge across the North Fork Stillaguamish[?] River, 160 ft. long, made of 3 logs, Washington.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 29 June 1908, front

This first card is not in particularly good condition. There’s a notable fold down the middle–almost a tear. Most of the cards from the album are in better shape, so my guess is that this card got bent when being mailed from Seattle to Chicago. When it happened doesn’t really matter–it’s unlikely to make a difference in any particular way except that the notable damage would likely reduce the price were it to be sold on it’s own.

Then again, as with so many of these cards, their value is not so much in the images as their contents–particularly their collected contents. The image shown is rather interesting: a bridge formed of three tree trunks with only one support: that rock partway across. I’m sure the bridge is no longer there, is a modern structure in place instead or is it not a crossing anymore? The publisher mostly produced images from around Washington and Alaska, per other people’s research. That said, it’s not the image that interests me most, but the reverse.

Stamp. Postmark Seattle, Wash., 11 AM 29 June 1908. Addressed to Miss Katheryn McMahon #2421 Shields Ave Chicago Ill. Message covers 2/3-3/4 of the card--see blog entry for text.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 29 June 1908, reverse

Fred wrote a lot on this card, didn’t he? Though this is long even for him. Lengthy messages such as this aren’t common–but they’re not so rare as some might think either. I have a number sent from a variety of people to different recipients. I will say this for Fred, he has very neat handwriting. I can decipher most of his messages even when interrupted by postmarks (as here).

“Seattle June 27 Dearie:–Just a line before I leave office it is 5.30 + am going to meet Chester D[?] and have supper then we are going to the vaudeville show at the Coliseum Have fine bill this week wish you were here now to go with us. Had fine business this week but with helping Sears at night has tired me out a bit but will take a good rest tomorrow (Sunday) Mother writes it is hot as blazes in Chgo. Weather here is beautiful, bright sunshiny days but the evenings are like a mid-summer nights dream I have been wearing my light brown suit + straw hat for a month The more I look at pictures the more I get stuck over these[?] There[?] beautiful, so are you dearie more so then ever dearie Will write Sunday night sure with all to you always. Fred”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 29 June 1908

The Coliseum Fred mentions was evidently built about 1903. There’s an image of it here with some more information (found in a quick research dip). Torn down long ago, the site is now occupied by the King County Courthouse. Research in old newspapers might offer information as to what the lead acts in the vaudeville were; that’s likely worth doing, since this isn’t/wasn’t the only time Fred went out to the vaudeville or the theater (if there was more than one). I’m curious to know what he considered a “fine bill” (i.e. the lead acts).

I don’t yet know much about Sears, although I can say (based on glancing ahead at the cards I’ll be sharing hear over the next week or two) that he comes up again. He’s evidently some kind of business associate, although since I still don’t know what business Fred was in (other than doing sales around the Pacific Northwest and wider West) that’s not saying much. We’ll see if more information arises to help identify him. He was working on Saturday; the five-day work week didn’t become widely established in the U.S. until several decades later.

He’s also writing very regularly (which we could guess given the number of postcards we have), as this particular card was written on a Saturday and he mentions that he’ll also write on Sunday (although we don’t know if this is a letter or a postcard). Plus, Fred’s certainly taking opportunities to promote the weather–not a bad idea, since he wants Katheryn to join him there. Especially since, according to his mother (a reference indicating other correspondents!) Chicago isn’t particularly pleasant at that time.

Portland, Oregon, and Mount St. Helens from Council Crest.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 21/22 February 1908, front

This view of Portland and Mt. St. Helens is fairly typical of many of the images left in the album by whoever went through and extracted others (the more salable ones, probably). It’s a tinted photographic image of a place, with the locale identified.

Stamp. Postmark Portland, Ore., 5.30PM, 22 February 1908. Addressed to Miss Katheryn McMahon #2621 Shields Ave Chicago. See entry for message.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 21/22 February 1908, reverse

Compared to the above message, sent months later, Fred’s not in such a good place at the moment thanks in no small part to delayed train connections. He evidently had a place in a sleeper Pullman car, that was shuttled off to a side track when it finally reached Portland. Fred expected to arrive in Portland earlier–and this card tells us two of the first things he did in Portland.

One: he went to the news stand in the depot, presumably purchased this card, and wrote to Katheryn.

Two: visited the post office, likely nearby or in the same building. In addition to posting this card, he likely checked for mail. His wording is ambiguous, but my initial reading is that he’s expecting a card or letter from Katheryn, and if he doesn’t have one by noon he “tell [Katheryn] some facts dear.”

“Portland Ore. 2/21 Dearie: Arrived in Portland this A.M. but did not emerge[?] from the Pullman until 7.30. Swiched sleeper on side tracks + left us there. Train was 7 hours late getting into Port. I wrote you from Pocatello Idaho where we had to wait for connections. Am writing this at news stand in depot + will go up to post office as soon as I finish this + if I do not find what I expect well I’ll wait until about 12 latest + after then may well tell you some facts dear. Fred”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 21/22 February 1908,

This raises the question of how Katheryn might know where to send cards and/or letters to Fred as he traveled. Did he plan the trips far enough in advance to send her a general itinerary? Or did his postcards (and any letters he wrote in addition) provide advance notice? Certainly he used the postcards to keep her abreast of his general location–this is in keeping with other travelers. For instance, I also have a number of cards (coincidentally from the same general regions as Fred) from a Methodist missionary keeping her family up-to-date on her travels, while also adding to her youngest sister’s postcard collection.

Apart from all that, we may well anticipate postcards from Pocatello, Idaho, as we proceed forward through the album.

“Good Company and Weather; Bad Connections and Mail,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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