I loathe clutter. I am always the person in my house to say, “Time to clean out! Throw it away or give it away! I don’t care what you do with it, as long as it’s gone!”
My family accuses me of taking this to extremes – and maybe I do. I have been caught trying to donate toys that my son is currently playing with and clothes my wife is currently wearing.
But I can get sentimental, too. Once in a while I’ll look at one of my possessions and think, “I will never, ever, in a million-jillion years, give this up.”
Shortly after my grandpa passed away, Mom gave me a stack of his old postcards. I was faintly familiar with them. I remembered seeing them in the bottom of his desk drawer during one of my semi-regular childhood snooping sessions. I never paid the postcards much mind, however, as they were stuffed underneath a distracting stack of ancient men’s magazines that featured models who looked like Ethel Mertz.
But now that the postcards had my undivided attention, I was in love.
My favorite is the card at the top of this post, a depiction of The Draper Company Works, a weaving loom factory in Hopedale, Massachusetts. In terms of architectural ugliness only parking garages are more of an eyesore than factories, yet the illustrator did a stellar job in making the facility look crisp, clean, and pristine. I especially love the faint wisp of smoke apologetically creeping into the brilliant azure sky. It is industrialization at its most Utopian, as seen through beer goggles and a generous slathering of Vaseline.
As much as I love the picture, it is what’s written on the back that makes the postcard a beloved keepsake. Most of the postcards in grandpa’s desk were blank, but this one is a window into my family’s history.
Dated July 21, 1926, it is a letter from my great-grandmother, who was visiting her mother in Upton, Massachusetts, to my great-grandfather, who remained home in Little Falls, New Jersey.
I never knew either one of my great-grandparents. My great-grandpa was long dead by the time I came on the scene. Great-grandma was alive, but my family never visited her. This led me to believe that she was either nasty or bonkers or both.
But that’s neither here nor there; this postcard, written almost 90 years ago and only a few lines long, opens a window into my great-grandma’s mind and soul. I never met her, but I feel I know her.
It reads as follows:
Just a few lines to let you know I feel terrible this morning. My whole body shakes. I scared Mr. Felton and Mama. They thought I was dying. Oh, the gas is killing me. Lastly, that’s all I care to write this morning.
With love from me and the children,
This card tells me many things. First of all, it explains why great-grandpa didn’t go on vacations with great-grandma. I can just picture him reading this card from the comfort of his home in Little Falls thinking, “Thank God I’m here!”
The card also shows that great-grandma wasn’t one to suffer in silence. When she had gas (and, boy, did she!), she was going to make sure everyone knew about it – not only Mama and Mr. Felton (whoever he is), but also her mailman. That was just the way she rolled.
But the most remarkable thing about the card is this: No one ever threw it out. My great-grandpa kept the card and passed it down to his son. And then my grandpa, in his infinite wisdom, held onto it for his entire life.
And now I have it. And you can bet your butt that I’m keeping it for the rest of my life, too. Mom gave me this postcard for a reason, I think; she knew I was the only one in the family who would appreciate its importance. Only I would make sure it was properly archived and kept safe.
And when I die, I will bequeath it to my grandchildren, for I feel it is my duty to let them know that, on one fateful summer day in 1926, their great-great-great-grandmother had a terrible – almost lethal – case of the farts.
130 Replies to “Card, Catalogued”
nice job! very touching and funny! best combination! Thanks. Michelle
Story about painful gas can be touching, can’t they?
Hits you right in the stomach!
This is why it frightens me when school systems decide they will no longer teach cursive. If kids do not learn how to write in cursive, they will not learn how to read this lovely script. And if our grandchildren must rely on the translations of prior generations, who knows how many unique and poignant messages like this one will be lost or misconstrued? Long live cursive!
p.s. And now there is a second site in MA that you must visit on your next Northeast tour!
Just think: if I couldn’t read cursive writing, I wouldn’t be able to write this post — which is essentially a 500-word, nonfiction fart joke.
Thank goodness I have a well-rounded education!
Indeed! I think school systems should uphold the teaching of cursive writing.
I agree and, fortunately, it is still is being taught. My son, a third grader, is duly forced to learn the loops and whorls.
I will NEVER understand this “no cursive” thing. I mean, how is writing faster instead of printing slower an outdated, useless thing? It makes NO sense. I mean, seriously…just because computers and smartphones are typing devices, now cursive writing is obsolete? Ugh!
The “no cursive” thing seems to go hand in hand with the “writing things down is a thing of the past thing”. This attitude is perpetuated by school administrators who believe that technology is the solution to every educational problem.
Ahem. Don’t get me started.
You know, for me, I always found that when I actually wrote something down, it became more committed to memory. So much is being lost, but…I don’t want to get you started! Or me! lol
You’re getting me started!
Mike, So wonderful that you have these family treasures to pass on to your son.
Yep. I can give this to my boy and say, “This is written proof that your great-great grandma liked to complain as publicly as possible.”
Sentimental and very funny. That postcard should travel through the generations, bequeathed to the eldest child in your last will and testament. What a treasured keepsake.
A fine idea, D. Wallace. I’m changing my will as we speak.
Hahaha! It may be what killed her….
If gas killed her, it sure took its sweet time. She didn’t pass (so to speak) until the early 1980s.
Her *complaining* about gas might’ve killed her poor husband, however.
Surely, it was a contributing factor…
If I received that postcard, it would’ve given me agita.
Or at least indigestion. Ha! Agita is a new word for me. I’ll have to drop the next time I’m experiencing agita… 🙂
Agita is an old person term. I’ve never heard anyone under the age of 70 say it. I don’t know why this is; It’s a great word and fun to say.
Here’s hoping it’ll soon be adopted by the young’uns.
OK, I use “agita,” Mike, and I’m under 70 😀 It is the Italian “slang” word for “indigestion” (agitate). It was commonly used in my family and still is, though I’m not sure I’ve heard my son or daughter-in-law use it : / What a pity. That needs to be passed gas—-um, I mean—on through the generations!
You use agita, because you are a woman of taste who understands the art and beauty of a wonderful word. Sadly, people like you are in the minority.
Love the simple address on the card. The PO folks just figured it out for everyone.
I know! I love that, too.
Just a name and a town and the card gets there. Amazing!
Low tech effectiveness
That postcard is like a prophetic warning, passed (ahem) down from generation to generation with a healthy dose of genetic dread . . .
Yes, but at this time I choose to laugh at it.
Don’t laugh too hard. 😉
Whoops. I think I gave myself agita.
Did you just quote Oscar?
You mean the Stallone movie? I saw it when it first came out, but I remember nothing.
I do. And you do, too, at least subconsciously. 🙂
Though agita is apparently a thing in your family, so . . .
Oh, man, Sarah, I remember that scene! Classic movie lol
It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one that has a stash of old postcards and letters. I really enjoy reading them and trying to put myself into the writer’s frame of mind.
I only wish I had a little more of your discipline to clear our clutter . . . it’s very difficult for me to let go of “things”. Maybe I should just let you loose in my basement with a box of trash bags!
Auntie Elaine, I would be happy to clean out that basement. It’s a Disney treasure trove down there!
Wanna go 50-50 on the eBay revenue?
Passing that down sounds like a family treasure. Though I do hope you’re keeping it in some sort of protective plastic. Postcards get worn pretty quickly.
It lasted this long without any protection. I’m gonna risk it.
Now I want to know who Mr. Felton is.
Poor, poor Mr. Felton.
I wanna know who he is, too, so I can write his descendants an apology.
Brilliant story! No wonder the husband stayed home.
I don’t know anything about my great grandfather, but I suspect he was a smart man.
Haha! Little did she know at the time she wrote it that one day it would be front and center on an Internet blog. You’ve brought her back to life in this post, and gas or not, that’s pretty cool!
True, but I’ll probably get an earful in the afterlife.
Bring her some Gas-X and all will be forgiven.
I’ll also bring extra postcards.
Ah, wonderful. And such a VINDICATION for us hoarders, knowing we are leaving potential treasure troves to be found
No, no, no, no! That’s not the point at all!
I, too, detest clutter. I am so glad you were passed this keepsake/memory. The art of writing shall continue on through you. I have a blank postcard that I recently received with a sample of perfume. This has given me funny ideas for what to write on it. We need to know who Mr. Felton is!
Oh, do share your amusing postcard writing when you come up with something!
And, yes, I’m gonna have to figure out who Mr. Felton is.
I am moving soon and could use your de-cluttering skills–just as long as you have not inherited your great-grandmother’s affliction. 🙂
If one person on the moving crew has the farts, the other movers move more quickly.
Good point. Hm, where is that number for Toots Men and a Truck?
You made me snort.
Ah, but that’s another post. 🙂
I’m sure your g-grandmother is pleased as punch to be front and center in this discussion. That postcard symbolizes the hilarity bone that’s being passed down through the generations. You’re doing it justice.
Oh, and the scatological humor? This post helps me understand why you can’t quite help yourself. The unseemliness lies in that long line of genes you inherited from the Great Gaseous One.
The Great Gaseous One.
Dibs on the picture book idea!
Maybe Susanna should have a contest for this topic. 😀 I’m sure you’d win!
Mike, I think you just found your plot line for the Great Ninja Brussels Sprouts Caper!
They do make toots, don’t they?
They do, but not as much as you would think! Well, at least not the way I cook them 😉
Better stick with broccoli, then.
But I like broccoli.
Remember, Mike—in the end, broccoli turns out to have always been Ninja’s friend 🙂 AND they DO produce gaseous effect! 😀
If you sent something to me with my name, the town and postal code, it would get to me. I love small towns and feeling a little nostalgic about how things used to be. (and I hate clutter too!!)
Really? We’re gonna have to give that a try.
You could send, say…..a personalized doodle……if you, um….really wanted to test the theory. 😀
Quite the cheeky request….who would send such a thing?? 😉
Grandma sure was forthright.
I had no idea they had gas in those days. 😀 😀 😀
I was sure they had it, I just didn’t know that they wrote about it.
😀 😀 😀 Back then, I though no-one spoke of such personal ‘things’.
Truth is, I think this is a wonderful keepsake. Even more wonderful ’cause you know how many in the family have kept it and passed it on. ❤
Yep. I just have no idea as to why. Maybe my forefathers also like fart jokes.
Hahaha. Seems they weren’t as stodgy as I thought.
I just spent a very stressful weekend caring for my sister in law after surgery. Needless to say gas was the dominating force leading to her discharge. While I’m sitting in the airport waiting to go home reading your post, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. I will be sharing this post with my sister in law, who knows I may even get a post card of my own. Thanks for this post!!
Oh, this comment made my day. Let me know what you sister-in-law thinks of the post!
Oh, and I hope her gas problem clears up soon.
So my Sister-in-law called me last night after making it home from the hospital successfully deflated. She was laughing so hard (through the pain) after reading your post. I was warned to keep an eye out for the mail. Really I’m so thankful your mom saved that post card…absolutely brilliant…see you never know!!
Ooh! My great grandma has started a fad! Enjoy your card when it arrives (and keep it in a safe place for posterity).
Give your SIL my best, won’t you?
Ha! “Models who looked like Ethel Mertz!” Love that line. I have a boxful of old letters exchanged between my mom and my uncle. I even have the one where she told him she was pregnant with me! Not one word about gas problems but a few about morning sickness.
I am shocked that no one picked up on that line until now. I knew I could count on you, Robin.
And hang onto those cards. When you get your novel out, they will be “collectible memorabilia.”
What a funny letter. I am pretty sure I don’t have any fart post cards in my collection of letters and cards…but I haven’t finished going through them all so who knows, I may be writing my own fart post soon. 😀
It really is funny that this was one of the saved treasures that was handed down.
Hey, who says YOU can’t write up a few fart cards for future generations? Get on that, Karen!
I’m sensing a trend building here, propelled by the infamous powers of GAS! 😉
What a GAS that would be!
Now I have “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” stuck in my head.
This is funny! 😀 I think I would’ve liked your great-grandmother! 😉
I think I’d rather have stayed with great-grandpa in Little Falls.
I didn’t say I’d GO with her… just as a person, I’d like her! 😉
Sorry, but you’re going.
Yes! Send him!
Mike, I think your grandfather stayed home specifically due to his need to pass on the gas 😉 I just love hearing about stuff like this ’cause there’s nothing like that old stuff 🙂
That card is the most bizarre thing in the world to hang onto. But I’m sure glad they did!
Love stinks, and often in a very literal way.
I have to admit this is the romantic way my husband and I talk to each other. Once I called to him from the bathroom, “Rob, you got to see this–” On second thought, I think that story is too personal.
This is sort of like how my grandpa always showed me his love by pulling his dentures out slowly so the gummy streaks hung from his teeth in a Mumm-ra kind of way. (wouldn’t a gross grandpa be fabulous in a PB??)
Ohm that grandpa story is nasty gross!
And, yes, you’re right, it would be a perfect PB. If you don’t write it, I will.
Haha, wow, what a great little message to keep for years to come. 😉
I agree. I should probably write a few embarrassing postcards for posterity, too.
Oh this is wonderful, and you have now preserved it on your blog too! I loathe clutter and yet I’m terrible at getting rid of things, so I have much more clutter in my house than I want! I yearn for minimalism. These handwritten old things are just wonderful aren’t they, definitely to be preserved. I wonder if future generations will find things that I’ve written and talk about how precious it is 🙂
I have no doubt that posterity will find you to be precious.
I hope you are now deciding to send postcards to family members and good good friends (even good blogging friends). I love snail mail. I love to send cards and postcards. I am much more careful than your great grandmother on what I say in said postcards, but I sure hope my words are wise and witty enough to be passed on generation to generation. However, if my great grandson uses it for an international e-post, he better say something really really nice about me. If not, I will send him to great-grandson purgatory, where he will meet you, and together, maybe, you two can come up with a way to make it up to heaven. Maybe by creating poems about how wonderful great grandmothers are, even those with bad gas and who stand in tree pose in grocery store lines.
Pam, you know I think the world of you, but If you choose to do tree poses in the check out lane, you deserve to be relentlessly teased by your great grandchildren.
Don’t blame me. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.
I love the story as always! What a fun memento to have! I commend you on your resistance to throw them out! 🙂
Do you have any idea how hard postcards are to find? My 6 year old niece called me last year and asked if I would please send her a postcard from TX for a class project. She lives in KY. “Not a problem!” I exclaimed. “I will put one in the mail tomorrow!” HA! Not only could I not find a postcard within a 30 mile range that said anything about the great country (ahem) State of Texas, I couldn’t find ANY postcards. I literally had to drive over 30 miles away to find what I wanted and send it her way 3!!! days later! Anyhoo… I then enlisted friends from all over the country including Alaska, (cuz I love my niece and I am an awesome aunt lol) as well as a friend from England! It was a cool thing to do, and she became one of the most popular project leaders. It is sad, but alas the postcard has become a thing of the past! 😦
I haven’t bought a postcard for years, but I’ve seen ’em around. Are you sure this postcard shortage isn’t just a Texas thing?
Nope… not just in Texas. When I called my friend in Florida… FLORIDA! She had a hard time finding one also as well as the one in Michigan. So, NO, it not just Tejas Senor’ LOL! 😉
Well, I’ll be! I better snatch up all the postcards I can; they may soon be valuable collectors’ items!
Great story! Gma had some lethal gas going on! LoL
Yep. Here’s hoping lethal gas isn’t passed down from one generation to the next.
this made my night. I think I would have liked your great-grandma!
Really! I’m beginning to think my family was wise in keeping me away from her.
I have a feeling the two of you would have gotten along swimmingly! Causing havoc whenever together
Maybe you’re right. I tend to enjoy the company of the cantankerous.
as do I.
I love postcards; the pictures and the brief (usually) “love you, mum” messages at the back. This post had me in stitches though, it seems one could use a postcard as a medical report form too. Your great grandma was either a very bold woman or had such a special relationship with great grandpa. I don’t think I could send hubby dearest a whatsapp about the subject (see, I can’t even right the word =D )
Thanks for sharing Mike 🙂
It’s probably for the best that you don’t write about your gas. But if you did, there would be a good chance your note would be passed down from generation to generation!
Hahahaha a legacy then! I’m tempted to consider it now, but not too much =D
How word come back and haunt you…more than tombstone messages. The words chosen can tell a lot about a person….or continue a long running family joke (that the writer may not be aware of even?)
Old post cards are cool, though. People hang onto them for some reason- is it the written message, the picture, or the fact/thought someone decided to take time and mail it to you?
I don’t know why people hand on to postcard, Philosopher, but I’m sure glad they did in this case!
This is so hilarious. There should be an award for best family heirloom ever! I read this to my girlfriends as we were all going to sleep in a hotel room. Bad idea, because we all got the giggles and the gas jokes went on far into the night.
I especially love grammy’s last line about not caring to write anything further. It is priceless.
Gas jokes are especially funny among friends.
I love that last line too. To paraphrase: “Lastly: GOODBYE!”
Yes, and love to the children. There was bound to be a writer among her descendants.
Oh my gosh the tears are rolling from laughter (not gas). It’s so refreshing to learn that flatulence was funny even 90 years ago.
Farting has always been funny. I’m sure Neanderthals tooted and laughed.
DUDE, that is such an awesome story! I would love to have something like that. I would never get rid of it. I’m a neat freak too, but definitely sentimental when it comes to certain things.
My aunt is a hoarder (like, for real) and she used to live with my grandmother, who passed away a couple of years ago. The amount of history and secrets hiding in that house are going to be interesting to explore one day. I’ll probably have an entire year’s worth of blogging material.
Also, I think every last line should be about farts. 🙂
While I can’t stand having junk in my house, I do so love perusing other people’s junk. I spent the better part of my childhood rummaging around in my relatives’ basements and attics, marveling at the fascinating (and often dangerous) stuff that I came across.
I’m one for throwing out junk too but that’s definitely a treasure you’ve found there. A great piece of family memorabilia to pass on to future generations. The message she wrote and your post made me laugh.
Ok… hilarious! You are right!
Warped but correct… 🤪