Here are some of my recent favourites from the ongoing Thousand Postcard Project.
ΔΔ The postcard above just really appealed to me. At the time, I couldn’t tell if it was the colours or composition but, later, I realised it was because it reminded me of the badly-drawn book covers on the old Mary Stewart novels I used to read. Mary Stewart was my guilty-pleasure airport-but-not-only-airport author: she wrote romance-thriller novels, often set in ‘exotic’ locations, with obscure literary references. I devoured them! A lot of the books were written in the 50s, 60s and 70s, so the cover-art involved this kind of upright, amply-bosomed heroine, generally among rocks or ruins or cliffs.
ΔΔ I think this postcard is one of the best of the lot, because it is so gloriously BAD. Here is what I imagine happened:
The marketing minds behind the Howard Johnson’s hotel decided that a postcard was needed in order to draw in more guests. They sent one of their junior staffers out with the company camera and a roll of film, and told him to capture the ‘beauty’ of the building at night, with the neon sign proudly lit. But the junior staffer forgot to bring the tripod, and when they had the film developed, every photo was blurry. Rather than do it all over again, they just picked the least blurry of the lot and went with it.
I wrote something along these lines on the back of the postcard before I sent it and, last week, I received a reply in the form of another postcard, depicting… traffic. On the back was written, “I see your blurry hotel photo and I raise you Birmingham’s round-about.” I will TREASURE that postcard. I’m still giggling. Blurry hotels and round-abouts are why I love this Thousand Postcard Project so much.
ΔΔ Here is another fabulously ugly postcard. An open quarry. WHYYYYY? Who came up with the idea that THIS was what would draw visitors to their town?
ΔΔ This beach photo made my ‘favourites’ list because it doesn’t even bother with a location. The caption on the back just says something along the lines of “enjoying the sand and clear water” (I can’t remember the exact words). I like to imagine that this beach photo was used to promote at least six or seven locations. You could just pick a State famous for beaches (like Florida or California) and shove these postcards in every tourist stand up and down the coast, for people to send to their friends.
ΔΔ Badly drawn illustrations are always my favourite. This one in particular because the man in the blue suit and hat at the bottom of the picture is carrying papers. What is written on them??
ΔΔ According to the information on the back of this postcard, this was the coastline where the pirate Blackbeard hid treasure. It’s not the Cornish coastline I imagine when I think of pirates and smugglers and caves, but maybe I just read too many Famous Five books when I was little. Do you think there could still be treasure buried in all that sand?
ΔΔ The biggest sponge exchange in the world. Who knew there were sponge exchanges!? I guess I should have known, sponges weren’t always the synthetic bouncy things we use in our kitchens today, but still, wow!!
ΔΔ Remember what I was saying about badly drawn picture? I think this postcard is GREAT because they have taken a weird rock formation and decided it would look more spooky by moonlight, and still managed to do a terrible job. Framed smack in the middle of the picture, with the best fake ghost-story-moon ever, and some pretty flowers all around for a softening effect. If you are going to draw rather than photograph a famous thing, surely you’d take the opportunity to give it a slightly more artistic composition?
ΔΔ These vineyards were in upstate New York (from memory) and the person I was sending the postcard to just so happened to live in the same State, so I set her the challenge of finding this exact spot and taking a photograph of whatever is there now.
ΔΔ Another brilliantly boring photograph. Clouds! Dear traveller, unless your friend lives in the desert and it has never rained ever in their whole life, odds are they have clouds at their place, too. Send them a picture of a quarry or a blurry hotel instead! I thought this postcard was so boring, I decided to find pictures in the clouds to liven them up for the recipient.
Well folks, that’s the end of this update. I’m still writing postcards so don’t think I’ve forgotten you if you’re still waiting. A thousand postcards is a LOT of postcards to write! And if you’re reading this and you’re thinking “A crappy vintage postcard is what I really need in my life right now,” I’d LOVE to send one to you, too. Go to this page to give me your address, and keep an eye on your letterbox.