Post cards provide a peek into the past

Friday, February 18, 2005

By Ben Holman

Nevada Daily Mail

"Wish you were here," the phrase comes to mind when considering post cards. For some people, post cards are more than a note from a family member on some distant island paradise, they are a window to the past, the photos that adorn the fronts of them and the messages scrawled out on the backs offer a glimpse of what life was like for those who mailed them to loved ones in years past.

Thursday night, a small group of post card enthusiasts met at the United Methodist Church in Nevada to show their collections and to discuss their hobby. Ralph Clark, who organized the meeting, said that this was the second time that the group had met since he first had the idea to hold the meetings. The get-togethers are more of an impromptu event at this point, but Clark said he intended to ask if everyone was interested in meeting regularly.

Thursday's meeting included four people, all of whom have been collecting cards for different amounts of time. Clark said that he started his Nevada post card collection about three years ago, but had been collecting other cards for about two years prior to that. Jim Earll, a retired electrician who has lived his whole life in Nevada, said that he has been working on his collection for about five years.

Lonnie Buss said that he has been collecting post cards off-and-on for 15 years now. Because he moved around the country many times, he sold off his collection on several occasions and started anew after settling in at his new locale. Beverly Denman was also at the meeting, but said that she isn't really a "collector."

"I have a family that saved everything," she said. "(The collection) fell upon me." Denman said that she brought her cards to show the group so that she could learn more about them.

All of the participants in the group focus mainly on post cards from Nevada and the surrounding area and all have quite extensive collections. "I've lived here all my life, and when I retired, I took it up as a hobby," said Earll. He said that the post cards give him a glimpse of the past and paint a picture of what life was like in Nevada before 1925 -- most of them do not collect cards newer than 1925.

"It's interesting to read the backs of the cards and find out what people were writing about and what things were important to them," said Clark.

"Everyone didn't have a camera back then so when you went somewhere you picked up a post card as a souvenir," said Clark.

He said that aerial views of the town are desirable but they all agreed that the most difficult cards to find are the "Dempsey Girl" cards. There was a Dempsey candy store on the Square in Nevada that produced a set of 12 cards with a different girl's picture and a different plant on each one, possibly one for each month. Earll had two of them but said that he hadn't seen many around and that they are probably the hardest cards to find.

There are post card shows all over the nation where enthusiasts can gather together and buy, sell and trade cards.

There are fairly large shows in Springfield and Joplin every year and one very large show in Wichita, Kan.

"(The Wichita show) is probably the largest in the Midwest, outside of Chicago," said Earll.

All of the collectors said that they got into the hobby for different reasons but agreed that it can be addictive. "Post cards are like peanuts, one just isn't enough," said Clark.

The group is hoping to find more collectors in the area and make their meetings a regular occurrence. Anyone who is interested may contact Ralph Clark at (417) 684-0477.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: