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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Tiger and The Wind

Welcome, all! You’re just in time for the monthly (1st Wednesday) on-line gathering of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where you’ll find helpful tips, handy resources, the latest trends in publishing, and a comfortable place for hundreds of writers – just like you and I – to share our writing journeys!
Feel free to meander and mingle. Our gracious co-hosts this month are:

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a writing rut, or in need of the perfect timesaving writing tool, this month’s IWSG Newsletter offers invaluable insight and excellent tips for both!
For member news and clever and witty movie reviews, our founder, Alex Cavanaugh, has it all!  

Happy October! It’s National Name Your Car Day! 

Have you ever named a vehicle? I once had a Mini Van that I named Tony, as in the tiger you could put in your tank along those endless summer road-trips. Tony’s previous owners had evidently been on a road adventure when they limped him into our parking lot one exceedingly hot summer day. The knocking rod sounded ominous at best. When we handed the harried owners an estimate, they handed us the title and walked away. It wasn’t hard to understand their frustration, but they left behind a mystery I’ve pondered ever since.

Under the passenger seat was a dusty unaddressed postcard from Boston. The only words on the back were “The wind” That’s it. No greeting, no punctuation. An unfinished thought on a card never sent. But why?

And whatever happened to Postcards?

An idea likely arising from the illustrated (picture) envelopes of the 1850s, the Postcard didn’t exactly dive into the U.S. Mail stream until Congress passed an act in 1861 allowing privately printed cards, which eliminated the need for an envelope, to be sent by mail at the cost of a penny each. It was John P. Charlton, a Philadelphia printer who copyrighted the very first American postcard in December of that year. Not quite ten years later, Charlton’s business associate began reissuing Charlton’s cards under his own name; Hyman Lipman. Meanwhile, in 1872 the government began producing its own “postcards” for a penny and raised the cost for non-governmental cards to two cents each.

Nevertheless, thirty years and numerous acts and measures later came the “Golden Age of Postcards”; the vast popularity of which led quite naturally to the “Real Photo” era facilitated by the Kodak “Postcard Camera.”

And just when interest began to wane in sending as well as printing the card-shaped carriers of abbreviated messages from afar, a new printing process was devised using a higher rag content, and the Linen Card was born. The linen cards achieved such worldwide popularity they remained in circulation long after the advent of the colorful and enthusiastically accepted Photochrome card.

Union Oil Company began selling the cards; depicting realistic images, in their western service stations in 1939 and while sales remain steady, it is attributed more to nostalgia than for the purpose of brief communications.

Have you ever sent or received a postcard? I wish I had, though brevity is not my strong point ; - )  In many ways I couldn’t do without today’s technology, in other ways I lament the loss of the personal connection, the genuine warmth that comes across in a hand-written note – even if my letters often do exceed the limits of a short story ; - )

On the subject of Short Stories, a Portmanteau (or, Collection) called The Haunted House was first published in 1859 for the weekly periodical “All the Year Round” It was conducted by Charles Dickens; who wrote three of the eight stories compiled in the collection. Could this have been the first-ever Anthology?

Happy Writing!


  1. Hi, diedre!

    I am very happy to see you again, dear friend!

    Your paragraph about giving names to vehicles immediately brought to mind the Roy Rogers television series. Pat Brady, Roy’s sidekick and Dale's cook on the show, owned a persnickety Jeep named Nellybelle. Seems to me the cryptic postcard you found under Tony's passenger seat could form the basis of a mystery novel. Thanks for reviewing the history of the penny postcard along with "The Golden Age of Postcards." I can't remember the last time we received one in the mail. To answer your question, yes, in the 50s and 60s I received and sent many postcards. It was customary when you traveled to send cards to friends and family back home. I remember encountering large revolving card trees in gift and sundry shops, standing there spinning them and deliberating at length trying to find the ideal cards to send.

    As a child I owned an Alfred Hitchcock short story anthology. I'm sure I'd enjoy reading Dickens' collection The Haunted House.

    Have a safe and happy H-ween month, dear friend diedre!

    1. Hi Shady!
      Those revolving card trees always fascinated me! There was usually another one nearby that held tiny license plates with names printed on them. I never did find one with my name on it – ha! An Alfred Hitchcock anthology would be more than welcome in my library ; -)
      Thanks for visiting!

  2. I have never named a car. I don’t love them enough though I really like the one I’m driving now.

    1. Hi Natalie!

      Until Tony, I always thought of vehicles as utilitarian items – such as refrigerators; easily taken for granted and sorely missed when they malfunction ; -)

  3. I didn't realize postcards had been around that long.
    I had a car called crap once...

    1. Howdy Captain!

      Now that’s a descriptive moniker ; -)

  4. I love postcards. It's sad that they are fading away. I sent some when I was on a trip out West. I liked the idea that the card takes a little while to get there, and I might even be home by the time it arrived. The photos are always beautiful. It forces you to jot only a few words, but makes a big connection. I also chatted it up with the post office worker and learned a little about the town where he lives. I understand your fascination with the abandoned postcard. There's a story there.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Mary at Play off the Page

    1. Hi Mary!

      I love talking with folks in small towns – especially ghost towns- as it feels so like a personal tour, and as such, it’s all the more fascinating. I’ll probably always wonder what it was about the wind…

  5. Thanks for sharing this fascinating history of the postcard, diedre! I used to send postcards all the time, but now buy them to keep as souvenirs, wherever we travel. (Mostly aerial shots I couldn't capture myself.)

    Tony, the mini van, would make a great story character! ☺ We had a 1978 Camaro Z28, named Madame Z. She was a magnificent beast, lasting almost 20 years.

    I didn't realize anthologies go as far back as Charles Dickens! That would be a fun read. ☺

    1. Hi Debbie!

      I bet you have some unique postcards in your collection! Had I not been a penniless kid (ha!), I’d have quite a collection myself, by now. Tony and I had quite a few grand adventures, and the neighborhood kids loved to all pile in for the short ride to the schoolhouse. Or, maybe it was the mini-donuts I provided… I love the name Madame Z! You can find “The Haunted House” on Amazon.

  6. My friend from college had a car we called Fluffy.

    I always used to mail postcards to my nieces and nephews whenever I traveled somewhere. I would draw a stick figure version of me somewhere on the front for them to find, too.

    1. Hi MJ!

      A car named Fluffy? How intriguing! Searching for a stick figure would have made receiving a postcard that much more delightful - What a brilliant idea!

  7. dIEDRE ~

    Interesting (and mysterious) stuffs! I had no idea you'd been involved in auto repair. That's not the sort of business you're in today, is it? I'd gotten the impression you have an office job of some sort.

    Indeed, I have sent and received countless post cards in my life. Still have a box full of some I've saved.

    And, indeed, I have named some of my vehicles. There was 'Pike' (named after Pike Bishop, the character William Holden played in 'The Wild Bunch'), and after him, there was 'Pike II'.

    And currently, I drive a Toyota pickup truck that was purchased new by my Pa in 1989. My Pa's name was Chuck, so this is 'Chuck the Truck'.

    That's hard to believe you've NEVER sent a post card. I thought everyone had at various times. But if you say you haven't, I certainly have no reason to doubt you.

    ~ D-FensDogG

    1. Howdy Stephen T!

      Yep. For a memorable few years we had an auto parts and repair shop off of I19 at Exit 48. Somebody had to process payroll, order parts, pay bills, collect the money. I was the logical candidate for the job. My “office” barely afforded room for two people, a phone, and a calculator – no computer in those days. In fact, our entire parts inventory was stored on index cards! My office these days is my haven, but I’m in an entirely different industry with a lot more (though never enough) time to write ; -) I’m not surprised you’ve collected postcards – I would have as well. I would have sent a few too (I swear on a stack of pancakes), had I known anyone outside of my town to send them to ; -) If you and “Chuck the Truck” collect any more postcards, be sure to leave one under the passenger seat.

  8. IN the late 70's and early 80's I had a full size Chevy van that eventually acquired the name "The Blue Moose". My wife at the time developed an infatuation with moose things and for her I put a giant moose decal on the passenger door. Hence the name--that and the fact that the van was blue.

    I've sent and received many post cards over the years. I'd say that all of the cards I've received are stowed away in my postcard collection that I started when I was a kid.

    Now postcards are much more difficult to find than they used to be. Those carousel display racks of cards used to be in a lot of stores, but now they seem to be a rarity.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Lee!

      The Blue Moose sounds like the perfect machine for adventure! I know of only one place left where they still have a postcard carousel – just off I10, west of Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Farm and across from Picacho Peak. By the time everyone got their soft-serve ice cream cones, our driver had filled up the tank and was revving the engine, allowing no time to browse the postcard rack ;-( I wonder if Truck Stops still carry them?

  9. I used to love getting postcards. Now the only snail mail I get is junk mail.

    1. Hi Ellen!

      Ha! Me too. I’d probably check the box more often if I thought there’d be a postcard inside ; - )


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