Being obsessed with paper can be a triple edged sword. It brings great pleasure both physically and mentally but is difficult to explain and extremely difficult to keep housed. This place of writing will be a safe haven for those of us that adore the feel, look, smell and information that paper provides. Each week I will share, research and explore the dynamics and stimulation of having a paper addiction.
As way of introduction, lets take a look at a recent find:
This postcard is postmarked November 15, 1911 sent from Detroit’s North End Station to Owosso, Michigan. While the photo is often the first thing to attract attention, the postmark, date, location and the note written tell a huge story of its own. Lets notice first the time stamp of 12:30p and the date November 1911. I’m hoping a person with a background in Marcophily will share in the comments some details about these features. I know the post was delivered twice a day in Michigan for many years but am curious why the time stamp is sometimes am or pm and occasionally the actual time of day.
The lovely script handwriting is about to become a thing of the past as schools are phasing out the cursive writing curriculum. Making the art of postcard collecting even more interesting and specialized. The note here reads, “Dear Cousin, hope you were not affected by the storm which struck your city Saturday night. Received Aunt Myra’s card o k. Deslia”
So many interesting clues to research. Was there a terrible storm notable for November of 1911 in Owosso? As a matter of fact, there was The Great Blue Norther of 1911 hit the Midwest states on 11/11/11 included a tornado and a blizzard in the same day. Genealogy information about Donna, Deslie and Aunt Myrna would take a little more time and intensity than I am willing to give right now, but since the data is here it will remain a possible side project.
Naturally, we must spend a few moments musing over the postcard photo itself. The printed information gives the basic identity of the location and purpose of the picture but from the printed I D on the lower right corner we glean information to guide us to the really interesting history of not only the Detroit fire department but the American auto industry.
According to the Detroit Fire Department History page the “flying squadron” was a 6- cylinder Packard staffed with 10 men and located at East Larned & Antoine. To give Detroiter’s a landmark spatial note, its around the corner from Tom’s Oyster bar and across the street from Nathan’s Deli (We often need restaurant references here in Detroit to help us know where we are going). Packard was considered a ‘high priced luxury’ vehicle and is an interesting choice for the Detroit Fire Department of 1911.
From this one piece of paper over a hundred years ago – we have a complete history lesson. People, place, events and industry.