Postcards from the Edge of the 20th Century

It’s a beautiful, crisp fall morning in south Louisiana. Eggs are on the stove, simmering to a hard boil. I will be on my way to church soon. Passing the time before service, I am looking at social media, reading a few blogs, and sipping Community coffee.

Somehow, I chanced upon some rather old photographs that I uploaded to Google photos a few years ago. I remember when I found these pictures. I was poking around a box of old mementos at my mom’s house while sorting out items in a cupboard. When I opened the brown and pink shoebox, the musty smell was almost overpowering. My mama thought the whole box should be ditched.

I’m glad I didn’t do that. In the cardboard box were forgotten treasures from my grandmother’s past. I found a medal from World War 2, probably from one of my uncles all of whom are dead now. I uncovered my mother’s ration cards from World War 2. There was an old journal from my grandmother, where she marked important dates with small notes. (More on that in another post.) In the jumbled pile of things, I saw some postcard pictures of young men and women in period clothes of the early 20th century.

A cursory search of the internet revealed these postcards were calling cards in the early days of the 20th century. Collecting postcards was a popular hobby it seems from this period. Fortunately, the cards were in good shape. One side had directions for mailing and space for messages, and the other, beautiful, staged young people from a century ago.

The first picture had a name on the back. The signature read Augustina Dufrene. My mama didn’t recall a relative or neighbor by that name. I looked for her name online but no local name matched to someone her age, which I assume was a young adult around 1910-1920.

It’s possible her name at birth was Augustine Dufrene from Lockport, Louisiana. I found that match. However no information beside a birthdate in the late 1890s was found. No wedding date. No death notice. Perhaps, Augustina moved away from south Louisiana, or maybe she died in the influenza epidemic that swept the nation and the world in 1918.

Another card featuring a female had a message on the back professing love and friendship but no name. I suppose she assumed a name wasn’t necessary since the bearer was more than likely a beloved friend.

My grandparents was married in 1917, so I think these were friends in the days before  or during World War 1. After the war, my grandparents had little time for collecting postcards. They were busy working a farm and having babies.

The names and stories of these cards are lost to time, but the beautiful images still remain as a marvelous mystery. I hope you enjoy viewing these century-old selfies of people in their Sunday best as much as I have.

Scan 7

Augustina Dufrene

post card friend (1)Unknown friend

Published by Laurie Matherne

Welcome to Gumbo YaYa. My writings are an eclectic blend. A Louisiana gumbo is a composite dish of roux, rice and whatever else the cook wants to add. Yaya is a Creole term for ladies all talking at the same time. The Gumbo Ya-Ya features my writing on spirituality, travel, culture, and humor. Grab a bowl of gumbo here and dig in!

3 thoughts on “Postcards from the Edge of the 20th Century

  1. Discoveries like this are often a writer’s best friends. Building stories around nothing more than a photograph is a great exercise. I used to do that with my grandmother’s album. After I wrote down my thoughts, I would ask her about the people who I did not know. Inevitably, her stories were better than those that I had conjured.

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