Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Logistics,  Travel,  Weather

Lonesome in a God-forsaken Hole

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 116-119

A variety of streets and buildings for today. Two of the cards had no messages, but their reverses are nevertheless worth showing alongside the fronts.

The cards were sent by different people to different people–at the same address and roughly the same time. I haven’t (yet) done further research into the addresses but it’s quite possible that 1800 State Street, Chicago, was a boarding house or a family lived there who took in a boarder or . . . well, actually, there are quite a few explanations. This will have to wait on some of the external research I’ll do when I write about this album (depending on how I write about it).

Readers who’ve been following along on these post, however, may note the initials on the card sent to Rose Crawford–J.T.R.–which match (as does the handwriting) cards sent around this time to Anna and Katheryn McMahon. Evidently J.T.R. was a shared acquaintance. This particular card may have made it’s way to Katheryn directly or through Anna.

Center Street, Pocatello Idaho
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 20 February 1908

Then we have this card from Pocatello, Idaho. To my eyes, it looks like a fairly typical Anglo-American-style small town. I grew up in the Midwest, and parts of the downtown looked (still look) very much like this: i.e. two-story buildings with shops below and fairly wide streets. (Though the town I grew up in, of course, has no mountains in the distance. That part of the Midwest is rather flat.)

Fred, however, didn’t like it one bit. He wrote to Katheryn (using one of the endearments that she might have liked but gets me gritting my teeth) describing it as “a God-Forsaken hole” although he immediately followed that by confessing “+ I guess I am a bit lonesome for you” so perhaps it wasn’t so much his surroundings as the separation wearing on him. He also wrote that particular card at 8.30pm while waiting at a “western flag station” for a train that wasn’t due until 1, presumably am, and it was February which I would imagine would be cold in Idaho. So the weather and/or temperature might have had something to do with it as well.

Third St. looking North from Alder St., Portland Oregon
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 27 February 1908

Fred wrote a very short note on this last card I’m sharing today: “Love Kate just a little for me + give her my very best regards.” This is the second reference to “Kate” in the cards. Again in circumstances which suggest that she is separate from Katheryn/Kitty. Quite possible, as Katherine in all its variations was a popular name. Alas, again we have no further information to figure out who Kate was as opposed to Katheryn/Kitty. Perhaps she’ll show up if/when I check the census records for Katheryn’s home and work address, and the State Street address.

Or not.

Tune in next time for a few cards with much more expansive inscriptions!

“Lonesome in a God-forsaken Hole,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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