(To listen to the audio of this blog post, use the purple play button.)
· Postcards, Poetry, and Food ·
This past weekend in Wichita, Kansas, was all about postcards, poetry, and eating.
When you hear the word “postcards” you may recall a slower time than today’s world of instant communication.
Were you traveling on a family vacation when you stopped at a service (gas) station and purchased a postcard while you waited for the rest of the family to get a bathroom break?
Who did you send postcards to? In just a few sentences—like today’s tweets and posts—you probably said hello and shared your photogenic adventures with friends and family members.
Back then you may have found your postcard on a metal, rotating display rack. I remember the advertised price: 5 for 25 cents. Of course, stamps were extra.
This past weekend Alex (my wife) and I attended the annual Wichita International Postcard Show. It had over thirty dealers who bought and sold a large selection of picture postcards. Besides making new friends, I added to my collection of “Reward” or “Wanted” postcards thanks to dealer Danny Frankel of SinCityPostcards, Las Vegas, Nevada. What a treat!
Beginning in the 1870s, local law enforcement began using the US mail as a way to help catch criminals who were wanted for a variety of crimes. Law enforcement agencies would pay a local print shop to produce a miniature reward poster for distribution. Each penny postcard gave a detailed description of the wanted person, usually offer a reward, and gave details on how to contact the legal authorities.
In the early days, the US mail was faster than an outlaw on horseback. Many a criminal was caught upon entering a small town where strangers were met with a suspicious eye.
While Alex and I were in Wichita, we were looking forward to dinning out since Hutchinson has limited nutritious choices. We were in gluton-free, vegetarian heaven when we discovered Zoës Kitchen at 1441 N Webb Road. The food was perfect and I was reunited with Malachi, a young, old friend, who took our food order.
Even though Alex and I were stuffed, after the meal we walked over to Whole Foods Market, 1423 N Webb Road, and pinched ourselves at the delightful choices of fresh food. Where were we? San Francisco? Alex was nearly hyperventilating when she found fresh figs.
Sunday morning I was the postcard club’s speaker. Of course, Reward Postcards was my topic. I got to meet member Terry Watt, Tulsa, Oklahoma, who used his electronic skills to set things up, and I shared my PowerPoint which examined the intricacies of the cards in my extensive collection.
My favorite part of the presentation occurred after I showed a wanted photo postcard of Jeff Duree, a bank robber who was active in the 1920’s. On the reverse of the card is typed in caps: “NOTED BANK ROBBER. WITH A HISTORY AS LONG AS THE LIFE OF MOSES. THIS MAN AND HIS GANG HAVE TAKEN OVER $1,000,000 IN CASH OUT OF OKLAHOMA BANKS. HE IS NOW DOING TIME IN LEAVENWORTH KANSAS PENITENTIARY FOR BANK AND TRAIN ROBBERY.”
John Jones, Bentonville, Arkansas, commented on Jeff Duree. John shared that his mother, Bessie Jones (born in 1902) was a bank teller in Lamont, Oklahoma, when she was 21 or 22 years of age. Duree and his gang held her up! Before escaping with the loot, the hold-up man ordered Bessie and a second employee into the walk-in safe. It was eight hours before they were rescued!
When John Jones shared his story with a room full of interested people, he made my day! Another story saved!
Alex and I needed to leave the show early. I had a date with a group reading poetry while accompanied by jazz musicians at the Wichita Advanced Learning Library.
But before participating in another show, Alex and I wanted to again fill our bellies before three hours of listening and waiting. We happily drove to the Beautiful Day Café, 2516 E. Central, for a pleasurable brunch.
The library had a wonderful, informative exhibit called “People, Pride, and Promise: The Story of the Dockum Sit-In.” It’s about America’s first successful student-led lunch counter sit in. Where did it take place? Wichita, Kansas.
Sixteen poets read their work to the stimulating accompaniment of musicians Dr. Susan Mayo, cello, and Bill Glenn, percussion. If Bob Dean, Kansas Authors Club, hadn’t organized the event it wouldn’t have happened.
I read my poem, “Nature Whisperer,” recently published in &/Both Magazine, Issue #4. (To read the poem, click on this link: https://jimpotterauthor.com/nature-whisperer/)
You would think that after a long, exciting weekend we’d have wanted to go directly home and take a nap. Instead, we continued to shop for merchandise unavailable in Hutch. We made one last stop. At Green Acres, 21st and Maize, we found my favorite cashewmilk yogurt alternative by Vega Protein.
What a weekend! The fun of purchasing hard-to-find postcards, enjoying delicious food at restaurants, and performing twice to a welcoming audience, was a delight!
Gluttonous, we must have gained five pounds apiece.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!
What a weekend! Such a variety of experiences and 5 pounds. What a fun time.
Jim Potter says
Yes! Still recovering.
I used to love to buy postcards as a kid, everywhere we went. Sometimes to mail, mostly to save and remember.
I had no idea there were postcard conventions. What fun!
Jim Potter says
Hello Bill, I’ve also used Wanted Postcards as writer prompts at workshops. It’s a great window into historical fiction (or non-fiction). Thanks for your note. Jim