Business,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Social,  Travel

Not setting the world on fire with orders

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 44-45

Fred Newton was in sales, although we still don’t know what business. The first card for today provides a little more information about his operations, although it doesn’t change the “don’t know” side of the equation very much.

The card itself is a view of one of Seattle’s parks. In fact, both of today’s cards are of Seattle parks–originating with the same firm, Paul C. Koeber out of New York and Kirchheim, Germany. Fred might have purchased them at the same time but, given the amount of time separating the postmarks (over two weeks), it’s just as likely he acquired them separately.

View of Leschi Park, Seattle: lawns, pool, benches, and Lake Washington with mountains in the distance.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 8 May 1908, front

The lines inscribed across the grass touch on the view (which doesn’t fully represent the beauty of the mountains–a problem modern photographers sometimes face as well) and the dimensions of Lake Washington. They’re an example of a sender adding information about the image, as a side element to the main message of the card.

The real meat of the message begins with the lower section of the image and continues on the reverse:

“Dearie: Just got back from “Tacoma” this P.M. went over on “Interurban” came back on big boat. Had fine trip in every way, scenery[?] along the road is great + the little town is a picture in itself. All green, pretty farms, well kept streets + swell little homes such as we used to see and talk about, out in the north section of town when last we were there together. Had very satisfactory business but did not set the town on fire with orders. I worked so hard + was so tired I positively was so tired I was to sleepy to write you from there. How are you feeling I am extremely anxious to know so acquaint me with particulars + tell me everything Sent magazines + papers did you get these Regards to Kate with Best your Fred Fri. 7a.m. [unclear] the 8th Good morning dear just finished breakfast could not mail this card last night shy a stamp. Bye Bye for the present Fred”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 8 May 1908
Stamp. Postmark Seattle Wash. 8 May 1908. Addressed to Miss Katheryn McMahon #315 Wabash Ave. Chicago Ill. c/o Atlas Supply Co. See post for message.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 8 May 1908

Fred chose variety for transportation, taking the rail out and returning by boat. Tacoma is evidently the “little town” he described as “a picture in itself” and which reminded him of the north section of Chicago, presumably the other town he referred to. Whatever he sold, he had northwestern Washington as his territory. Given his travels around Colorado, Utah, and Oregon, he may have had territories there as well or at least responsibility for major towns/cities.

He included the usual request for news of her, and asked after materials he sent her. If we add these to the special delivery package he shipped back as per the previous card (dated approx two weeks later), he’s sending quite a bit. Although he meant to send the card out that night, he lacked a stamp and had to wait until the next day.

A couple weeks later, he sent an image of City Park. In this case, the image and the message were closely entwined, with the first inspiring the second–along with a bout of suitably allusive reminiscences.

The view of the adult-sized swings evidently brought back fond memories. If we add the reference to the swings to the earlier card(s) depicting a man and a woman and a hammock, we may have a fairly good idea of one part of their courting phase.

“Kindly take note of the view to the right of the path indicated by the (3 crosses xxx) marked specified thereone[?] This particular view at least to the right of the picture reminded the writer of a certain summer resort on Michigan where the swings + other things changed his destinity[?] from what he was to what + where he is today Now who can he mean– F.N.”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 22 May 1908

Summer resort in Michigan may be Paw Paw, since he mentioned that a few cards back. It was a place of some note (another point to research down the road).

Fred may not be setting the world on fire with orders, but he’s certainly trying to keep the fires of affection burning despite a long-distance relationship.

“Not setting the world on fire with orders,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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