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Truth, Deception, and a Lucky Wishbone

Thomas Gray Haile subcollections, cards 24, 5, and 22

We’re back! With some lovely roses to start us off, and a nice sentiment for a 1 April (1908) card.

Roses and the phrase "Best Wishes"
Madge [unknown] to Thomas Haile, 1 April 1908

This is fairly tame for Madge, in image and message. The inscription itself is short: “April 1st Received your card tonight. Guess you were not disapointed about the letter. I was good last Sun. I am afraid to say much There is a show in town tonight Mary has gone.” Again, this offers hints about their layered communication in cards and letters, plus Madge’s being “afraid to say much” about being “good.”

Then there’s this card.

Sent for a holiday, given the image and the date, but with only a name on it. “Eudora.” If/when I ever get around to researching Tom Haile’s family it will be interesting to see if she has a place on it. The card was mailed to “Mr. Tom Haile” so she knows him well enough to use “Tom” versus “Thomas.” It’s postmarked, and Eudora is an unusual enough name that might be enough to identify a possible candidate in the census (or not, after all this is 1908 and some people moved around so there’s no guarantee she was there in 1900 or 1910).

And now we come to perhaps the most provocative card of them all. This is the card where Madge lays quite a bit out–but in terms that are likely only ever to tease historians.

Let’s start with the front:

A wishbone with a ribbon and the message "good luck." Additional handwritten message as per post.
Madge [unknown] to Thomas Haile, 20 April 1908

It’s ambiguous. Is she wishing good luck to herself or to him? Add in the message beneath “You are just the same to me and I want you to come home–Will write tonight” It’s an affirmation that she has not changed in her affections.

Then we take a look at the inscription on the reverse:

Received your letter last night. Have been neither untrue or untruthful but part of what you heard is true he has been, I’ll tell you all when I write tonight. I have never deceived you and will not now. Trust me and I’m yours doubt me and I shall wish to die.

Madge [unknown] to Thomas Haile, 20 April 1908

Now there’s a loaded message. Evidently Madge did something. Someone saw and wrote about it to Tom (potentially misconstruing it, or not). He wrote to her (a letter). She’s sending this card back as quick as possible and will write more soon.

I admit, I tend to get stuck on the “neither untrue or untruthful but part of what you heard is true” — if we add that to the “he has been” right after it suggests that a rival (of some kind) visited or otherwise encountered her (that being what’s true) but that she kept faith with her affections for Tom (being neither untrue nor untruthful). At least, that’s my take.

What’s yours?

“Truth, Deception, and a Lucky Wishbone,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle

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