Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmases From Long Ago

Today my mom and I went out to visit her old brother, my 83 year-old Uncle Hector. He has recently moved into a new place and is still in the process of sorting out long forgotten things that had been boxed up for some time.

Today he pulled out the following "scrapbooks:

This photo is a bit misleading though because, in fact, each is comprised of about twenty-five 8.5" x 11" cardboard panels, taped end to end. They were put together by another uncle, Martin, who sadly died in 1995. Uncle Martin was the most amazing "collector and organizer" who I have ever known. He collected all sorts of things, and each was diligently recorded and organized. Think "super librarian" and you'll come close to appreciating him.

Hector explained how the pieces of cardboard originated from when you had a shirt drycleaned back in the 1950's and 60's. Each January, Martin carefully glue all the Christmas cards onto the interconnected pieces of cardboard, carefully noting who sent each one. The result served both as a book or a long accordion-like banner that could be affixed to any wall on successive Christmas. Quite ingenious actually.

It was fascinating to go back over 40 years ago to see the cards & letters & photos from friends and relatives of my uncles and my grandmother. Quite fascinating indeed.

There were some interesting glimpses into those early years of the 1960's:

  • The postal codes, if they were even called that back then, consisted of one numeric digit. I think this probably referred to the nearest postal office.
  • All of the phone numbers were written differently. For example, rather than writing "277-1234", instead they'd write "BRowning 71234". The first two letters of the word - "BR" - represented the "27" on the phone keypad. You can read more about this here.
  • Most of the Xmas card were exceptionally small. I'm guessing this had to do with the cost of postage back then. There was probably a reduced rate for the tinier cards. Here's one, with a quarter beside it to show you its scale:
With Hector's permission, I carefully removed a few of the cards from old home and plan to mail them to the original senders.

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