Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Social,  Travel,  Weather

From the baggage-smasher to a blizzard to the tally-ho

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 82-85

Four cards from four different places, but only two people. Mostly Fred, of course.

First up, two cards documenting Fred’s travels through the West.

Fred dropped a quick update to Katheryn from Pueblo to assure her as to his safe arrival–and make sure she knew where to direct her letters and cards. That’s

Girlie Dear: Just arrived in Pueblo + am waiting for baggage-smasher to locate my suit-case Looks the part of a Wild Wooly Western Town As Ever

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 14 February 1908

His description of getting his suitcase tickles me, although I suspect that baggage-smasher is much more apt for modern methods of delivering baggage (at least in airports) versus the human-powered he likely dealt with. Pueblo left a distinct impression on him, based on the description.

Only a week or so earlier, he’d notified Katheryn of his arrival in Colorado Springs.

In Colorado Springs, he seemed more preoccupied with his meal and the weather. Then again, he arrived there late thanks to a blizzard in Iowa.

Arrived here at 7.30 + had supper” [reverse] “Colorado Springs Colorado Thurs 8.30 Feb. 6th Dearie: Just finished supper at this (Acacia) hotel Train 2 hours late Delayed on account of bad blizzard we ran into in Iowa. Weather here is great cool but dry no+ [unclear] Am in drug store, clerk say the days are warm Have just phoned Stella I am going out to her home for the eve. With Love

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 6 February 1908

He took the time to specify that he supped at the Acacia–i.e. the hotel pictured on the front. It takes no stretch of the imagination to conceptualize the hotel having copies available at the front desk.

And did you catch the reference to the phone? In this case, he mentioned having called someone–a person sufficiently familiar to Katheryn that he used only a first name–who lived locally. The relationship between the phone and the postcard is an interesting one.

Some points worth remembering with respect to the history of phones. First, long-distance calling wasn’t cheap in 1908, say rather expensive. Second, neither answering machines nor voicemail existed. If you called someone at the wrong time, you’d get no answer. And that’s presuming they had a phone line installed in the first place! I have cards in other albums and batches that also address this, including one which specifically asks their correspondent to drop a card to arrange a phone call because the sender doesn’t have a phone and will have to run across the road to use the neighbors.

(As an aside, in the 1950s my grandmother wanted to set up a line to a house in New Hampshire and was told by the phone company representative that this wasn’t possible. Only seven people could be on a party line–i.e. a shared line where everyone can hear every call–and there were already eleven!)

The next card switches us across the ocean to Europe. Katheryn’s Europe-traveling friend Billy provided a message this time. Not a very long one, but then this seems typical of him (her?). In this case, Billy did at least connect the inscription to the image on the front, mentioning visiting it and a piece of historical information that stayed with them.

Jumping back to Fred, we have another image of a hotel. Again, Fred incorporated a reference to it in the text to indicate it wasn’t a random choice. This hotel–or annex–hosted the “tally-ho” from which Fred got a seat to watch the parade during the Great White Fleet’s visit to Seattle.

Hotel Butler Annex, corner Fourth Ave. and Marion St., Seattle. See post for message.
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 26 May 1908

An extra long message this time, beginning on the reverse and then wrapping around a good part of the front (plus a sentence fragment on a third side, not transcribed below).

Hon: This is the big day here for the entertainment of the officers _ sailors of the fleet. I was down at the Butler Annex last night + one of the boys whom I became well aquainted with asked if I wanted to buy a seat in the tally-ho the young men of the Hotel had engaged to view the parade from so before leaving for down town (this is a holiday) I just wanted to tell you how much I wish you were here with me to take it all in. Do you know dearest I cant [unclear unclear] enjoyment[?] out of the number FN[?] [front] things one can take in here, good, clean wholesome fun, inexpensive but most enjoyable, like a fine longboat-ride on one of th lakes near the city or on the “Sound” and then I do miss you when I occasionally do indulge of a Sat. P.M. or Sund. + I long for you to be here with me. I am awfully desirous to hear from you since I recd yours of the 16th + hope it will be very soon that I do dear.

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 26 May 1908

This postcard, date-wise, falls between the two discussed last week. It combines the two, sharing much of Fred’s pleasure in his Seattle times and expressing concern over not having heard from Katheryn.

There are 133 cards in the album (including the initial gift card as #1), so we’re more than half-way. Another month or two and I’ll be sharing the chronological arrangement and some preliminary overview observations. Then, into the next album (I’m debating between two). I’m enjoying this. I hope those of you reading this are too.

“From the baggage-smasher to a blizzard to the tally-ho,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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