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Running to the Drug Store for a Smoke in a Blizzard

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 98-100

Three different buildings for today’s images–and questionable decision-making on Fred’s part (from my definitely modern perspective).

As with the images in the last post, the first falls into the category of Fred Went Somewhere and Sent Katheryn a Postal of it. This is and always has been a popular reason for making and sending postcards, i.e. to show people you’ve been places and seen things. Sometimes Fred includes interesting information in his message, and other times . . .

As seen here, Fred visited the Mint while in Denver and went for what may be construed a joke and very real wish for more money. He phrased it differently, but that’s my interpretation of “I know what I would do if I ever got a little of the “precious” within. Do you?”

(As an aside, I have to admit that the reference to precious immediately brought Gollum from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to mind. Not something that would be written and published for another half-century after this, but the mind makes the associations it wants to.)

Next up is a card from an unidentified individual to Anna McMahon. The image is from New York City, but its postmarked Niagara Falls on 13 July 1907. Although there aren’t any initials, anyone who’s read many of these blog posts may remember that someone by the initials J.T.R. sent many other cards to Anna with the exact same postmark and date. Ergo . . .

Then we have this card with not one, not two, but three separate messages from Fred to Katheryn.

I don’t know in which order he wrote the messages, but my guess is the one across the top of the front was written last (or he’d have used the other spaces).

It’s tricky to make out the place and month on the postmark, but as the date appears to be 27 January 1908 I’m guessing the “CHI” around the side indicate this was mailed in Chicago before Fred left on his cross-country travels to Seattle. Which explains the matter of him never writing the date anywhere–he didn’t have to because he expected this to go in the city mail, which was delivered several times a day.

At any rate, back to the matter of the three messages. The two on the front are connected. The (probable) first of the two to be written was dated very early in the morning on Monday–12.45 A.M., only hours after he’d last seen Katheryn. Apparently she hadn’t been doing too well for he expresses “Hope you are feeling much better by the time you receive this card than you were when I left you.” Yet even with that, he still felt the previous night was a success for he also wrote that bit across the top of the building “we had a good time Sund. Eve. didn’t we.”

By the way, the building shown is the Majestic Theatre in Chicago–which Fred later compared Seattle’s Coliseum to.

The other side gives us the context in which Fred sent his wishes for health to Katheryn. He went out in a snowstorm (“Quite a Blizzard”) for a cigarette or cigar or other smoking paraphernalia. He needed his fix enough that he “dropped” into a drug store. The implication is that while there he also picked up the postcard and perhaps mailed it. Although he does include the sentimental line that “as long as you [Katheryn] are comfortably sheltered my mind is at ease.”

At the same time, he also made arrangements to connect with Katheryn before too long. “Will call you up Tues. 12.30 to 1.” This helped ensure he’d speak with her versus leaving a message with whomever else might answer the phone. No one answering would be worst–this was long before the invention of answering machines or voicemail. It’s one example of how different media exist simultaneously–serving different, overlapping functions and allowing for coordination. Some communications were better suited to telephones, others to written media such as postcards.

“Running to the Drug Store for a smoke in a blizzard,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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