General Info,  Presentation/Appearance,  Social,  Thomas Gray Haile subcollection

Valentines, union suits, and wrestling

Thomas Gray Haile subcollection, cards 36, 55, 167, and 95

First up, a nearly blank slate ripe for speculation. This could be from Madge–but equally might not be. There is very little to go on. With respect to the sender’s identity, we have the choice of the card, which suggests a romantic connection, and the name and address of the recipient. This is the kind of card Madge generally chose (i.e. romantic, as the following posts will demonstrate), but . . . the handwriting on the card isn’t close enough for me to incline that way (much as I’d like to). Further, the card was addressed to Mr. T. Gray whereas the earliest card signed Madge (in August of 1907) addressed him as Thomas. Plus it’s not postmarked from Gainesboro which is where most of Madge’s cards originated. So much as I’d like to be able to put this one down as an early representative of their connection, I can’t. It’s from unknown (probably not Madge) and will remain that way.

Given the postmark — 13 February 1907 — it’s undoubtedly a Valentine’s Day offering.

It’s also in lousy condition. I did say many of these cards were, didn’t I? Alas, we can’t know whether the condition of the cards speaks to Thomas Haile’s frequent review of them or neglect or both.

Up next, another Valentine’s Day offering. This one offers a different array of puzzles.

Note the interaction with the card (shout out to some of the cards Fred sent to Katheryn) — with the added “Ha!” as commentary on the card’s preprinted message.

Then there’s the not-completely legible message around the edge. “true[?] to Spencer; Philos got 30, the Callios 26; 109 in school F.C.H.” I’m guessing F.C.H. was reporting some news about Thomas’s schoolmates, but we’ll likely never know for sure.

Most of the marks on this card are likely from water damage or mold (at a guess). This particular card was designed and printed at a time when senders weren’t supposed to write anything except the recipient’s name and address on the reverse. Some designers allowed room (rarely much, but some) for a message on the front as shown by the last card from today–not this one! The sender had to write around the edges.

What did they write? Well, I’m not completely sure. Here’s the transcription I currently have. The many [illeg] denote places where I basically couldn’t decipher even enough to guess.

“[illeg illeg] about again [illeg] just think I think has [illeg illeg illeg] it will be only to rest [illeg]”

“things are all O.K. down here and I think I shall do well”

“Write me again and give my regards to all the boys + girls but you neednt show the latter this card–RLC[?]”

The reference in the last section to not necessary showing this card to “girls” suggests it could be considered risque. I’ve seen enough others to consider it tame, but we’re talking about small town Tennessee at the turn of the twentieth century, so . . . At any rate, as with the one above, I’m guessing this is from a school friend or someone around Haile’s age (could be a relative).

A different kind of risque card (to which my 21st century self rolls eyes). On the other hand, this has a longer–and more legible.

First, though, note the address–specifically the honorific before Thomas’s name “Esq” or “Osq”. This likely denotes “esquire.” My general understanding is that was unofficially reserved for attorneys (and perhaps public officials)? I’ll have to do some more research. If this is the case, it improves the odds that this Thomas Haile is the same as the one found in the 1910 census who was an attorney.

“Knoxville 4/15-1907 Today is the U. T. day + there’s[?] no school so I’m taking in the sights [reference to visual] Had a wrestling match last night + came very near getting my shoulder dis-located, I was put out of commission. I was to pitch a game of ball today but on account of my shoulder I guess I wont [unclear] How is Ganesboro? Scales is also crippled He fell at the Rink[?] [unclear unclear] last winter George Let me hear from you”

George is presumably the sender, also likely one of Thomas’s school mates or connections. He’s likely at the University of Tennessee, and an athlete interested in wrestling and baseball. The reference to a third individual by the nickname “Scales” is in keeping with my general knowledge about nicknames in the early 20th century (also a matter that can warrant further research).

Based on these cards, the general picture is of someone who may be an attorney (likely is) but is also recently out of school or university and still has connections in classes.

For those following along as entries are posting: you’ve probably noticed I’m shifting to posting once a week. This is due to the press of other business. I hope to get back to twice a week in the future, but we’ll see.

Next week, you will (finally) meet Madge!

“Valentines, union suits, and wrestling,” copyright 2021, Alea Henle.

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