At an antiques show earlier in August, I found myself drawn to the stacks and stacks of postcards littering booths around my old high school’s cafeteria. Though I’ve gone in the past and enjoyed flipping through many of the images, I was a woman on a mission this time.
My postcard collecting has started to grow out of control.
The last time I attended the antiques show with my mom and sister, I had so much fun looking through the boxes of mementos from time gone by. I remembered seeing notes from Niagara Falls, my most favorite of places, and regretted not buying a few. The ones that were stamped and actually written out, complete with addressees, are the best; it’s fun to see the postage, for one, but the notes are what really get me.
After spotting the same antiques dealer from last year, I made a beeline for his boxes of postcards and began flipping through. Once I found those from New York, I was in fat city — and finding a bunch from Niagara Falls wasn’t difficult. Though I came home with three, only one was filled out. That message is what made me bring it home.
What I love about old letters is that the sentiments aren’t exactly antiquated. Every time I get a peek at Niagara and stand near the falls, I echo “Liz-Lyle”‘s thoughts: “Never thought anything could be so beautiful.” It’s simple and pure and honest. And I love that in terms of a letter, well — that’s all there is.
I like to imagine that Liz and Lyle are a young couple on their honeymoon, perhaps venturing away from the family nest for the first time as newlyweds. They’re writing home to Liz’s family in D.C. and sent a series of postcards from Niagara, where they stayed on the Canadian side. It’s 1953 and the world is a new, shiny place; World War II is over and Vietnam and the riotous ’60s haven’t altered America just yet. Maybe it’s a time of relative tranquility. Or maybe it’s still turbulent, but Liz and Lyle have chosen to marry in defiance of the world’s uncertainty. And I applaud them.
Ahem. Well, you can see how easy it is for me to get carried away with things, but that’s just because I love making up stories. And every postcard definitely tells a story.
I imagine the letters I send to people around the world through Postcrossing someday winding up in attics, basements or in the hands of grandchildren or great-grandchildren. No one will know who I am or how to reach me, but they’ll hold in their hands something I once touched. I send photos of places that mean something to me, and postcards I’ve picked up in my travels. I take care when writing each letter, sharing a little bit of myself in that note. Sometimes it’s like therapy.
And maybe sometime, somewhere, someone will buy my postcards at an antiques sale.