Sepia Saturday: 'Oh You Kid' - 20th Century Tweets
As I mentioned in my last post, I have the duty of being the custodian of my maternal grandfather's trove of 78 discs. On the other side of the family, I have an equal if not more daunting task -- caring for my paternal grandmother's stash of hundreds of stereographic cards and even hundreds more post cards.
Born in territorial Oklahoma in 1890 -- just months after the big land run the previous year -- she had only a couple dozen photos of her and the family before her marriage in 1910. But there are hundreds of postcards sent to and from her brothers and recounting her budding romance with my grandfather.
The bulk of the cards are from 1907 to 1909 to and from her brothers (such as Oscar who wrote her in the card below from teacher's college) and between her and my grandfather. They provide an often fascinating glimpse into her teenage years as her older brothers left the nest and she prepared to marriage.
There is often very amusing disconnects between the messages and the accompanying photos. It's not unusual to read about an encounter with a Cherokee chief or an attack by a rattle snake in the chicken house with a picture of Buckingham Palace or the Tivoli Gardens on the front.
These semi-private messages -- going through the public mails and likely shared with the whole family offer an intriguing glimpse into daily life and colloquialisms of the day. "Oh you kid" was the "Yo, homie" of its day.
This was likely the only communication between my grandmother and her brothers at the time since long distance phone calls were probably considered an extravagance even though they were only 30 miles away.
When I was a child, I love to flip through these cards, amazed by the art and message from so long ago.
My grandmother was amazed that anyone of my generation would have an interest in something that she thought so trivial and ancient. But she would fill in gaps and context for the cards.
Looking back at them today, they bring additional nostalgia and fascination. I also see that this was the Twitter and Facebook of its day, immediate, snappy communication that was running a parallel track with the contemporary popular cultural -- the personal and the popular running side-by-side.
I love the cards just for the artwork and glimpse into cultural norms, but the family history and human connection carry much deeper meaning. One side of me says that I can put off until retirement transcribing all of the messages and connecting the dots with my own memories, oral histories from my grandmother and her writings. Good sense tells me that needs to start now. One card at a time.