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Keeping Secrets and Choosing Addresses

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 110-112

This first card was postmarked and dated 10 February 1908. These don’t always align quite so nicely. I’ve usually erred on the side of citing the date Fred wrote on a card over the postmark unless I’m talking about the mailing.

View of Denver Colorado
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 10 February 1908

At any rate, back to the card. There’s nothing explicit to this effect–it was merely an image of Denver with a quick query about how the town struck Katheryn–but I suspect it was Fred’s arrival-in-town-safely missive. After all, we know he’s sending two or more cards from most places he stays for a night or two.

Anyone who’s been in Denver more recently will notice how short the city was in 1908 compared to its modern incarnation!

This next card is quite interesting. The image, of course, is nicely tinted and offers a view of a decidedly business-oriented area of Seattle. Of more interest to me, Fred brings up something in his message that links to many of the cards I’ve shared here already and something I’ve mentioned planning to analyze when I’m done processing them and do some chronological examinations:

Katheryn’s addresses or where Fred directed his correspondence.

For those who would prefer not to crick their necks, here’s my transcription of the missive.

Dearie: As I stated in letter to you last night, am invited out to supper at party’s house so while waiting for time to meet me here at the office thought I would drop you a card I expect a long letter + picture from you so if it is not forthcomming you will never hear the last of it. Advise me if you want me to continue sending you cards addressed to office or shall I send them to your house, now dont be alarmed I wont until you say too as not to; you know I’m wise to just a few things even if I am 2600 miles away from you. This old world is not such a big place after all, you know I hope you are well dear + happy. With Love From Fred

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 12 May 1908

Fred’s oblique reference to supper with “a party” may mean his meal with Mr Sears. I don’t remember the date off-hand, so this will be clear or not when the cards are chronologically arranged (through my spreadsheet, not physically). Then Fred turned to his usual encouragement of Katheryn writing him and providing her picture.

The last bit, however, involved Fred explicitly asking Katheryn where she wanted her mail–or at least postcards from him–addressed. He seemed to have suspected something going on. (I’m personally tickled by the admission of being “wise to just a few things” which could be taken quite differently than he likely intended.) But–of which place was he suspicious? Home or work? Because he asked whether or not to continue to send cards to her work address on a card sent there!

Now, of course, one of the first things when I do the chronological sort and analysis will be to see if any cards dated after mid-May went to Katheryn’s work address. Though given the number of cards removed from the album, I will only be able to suggest not state conclusively.

Other cards have included occasional references to things or people saying things (and here, again, I mourn that we don’t have Katheryn’s side of the correspondence). Indeed, the next card in the album is just such a one.

Another Seattle street image here; this is certainly a worthy album for such views!

But, of course, since visual analysis isn’t the primary focus of this blog, let’s get to the next message. Which wasn’t the next one by date, only by arrangement. In point-of-fact, this written and sent several weeks after the earlier.

Dearie I wanted to write to you a very long newsy letter in answer to your two dear sweet letters of May 26 + May 30 (also recd your postal May 28) this eve but something came up to prevent me so doing + I will not write you anything but a nice long newsy letter + am going to ask you to wait until tomorrow dear I am sore at something that occurred Dear: Please keep away from M____l & _ Promise me you will [unclear] but its only for very few more days now + I have got to say nothing Will explain in letter yours Fred

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 5 June 1908

Off-the-top, this card affirms Katheryn used both letters and postcards to communicate with Fred, just as he used a combination with her.

Then there’s the very interesting request for her to stay away from two people, but only for a few days. The use of letters and blank lines was, of course, a long-standing traditional way of alluding to people within Anglo-American written cultures. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, so I’ll do my best not to. Merely note that I wonder if this is related to Fred’s interactions with Sears–possibly he’s in the process of jumping ship and doesn’t want former or current colleagues from Chicago to know about it? We’ll see how the cards do or don’t line up down the road. I don’t promise to answer all questions when I write up the chronological viewing here, but I’ll address some.

Only 21 cards remaining in this album–but there are also two letters to Katheryn, one from Fred and one from a sister after her marriage, plus a couple of other kinds of cards to share. Adding in a post for a partial chronological write-up, and I’m guessing we’ll wrap this around the end of May. After which, we’ll take a brief side line into a selection of cards from an album I’ve already processed (a sort-of counter-balance to Fred being the only one we’ve really heard from in this lot), then dive into the album of a postcard club member! I’m looking forward to that (it will be the second such album I’ve come into possession of and processed so I’ll be comparing it with the first off-and-on).

“Keeping Secrets and Choosing Addresses,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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