Long before instant messaging and cell phones, people relied on letters and postcards to keep in touch across the miles. In the early 20th century, Pony Express riders delivered the mail, which often took a week or longer to reach its destination. Mail served as entertainment and families eagerly awaited its delivery.
Today, it’s North Kansas City Hospital Communications Supervisor Lori Kirk who gets excited reading postcards she’s collected. Most of them are addressed to her Grandma Cornealia, also known as Nealie, who was a teenager in the early 1900s.
Lori’s collection totals over 60 postcards and features various seasonal themes. Several years ago, she decided to display her Christmas postcards and now keeps postcards out year-round. “The postcards give me that comfortable feeling of family. With families spread out now, I miss that connection,” Lori said.
As a young girl, Lori’s grandma and her family traveled by covered wagon when they relocated from Tennessee to Savannah, MO. Most of the postcards depict the communication with loved ones left behind. “It’s fun to read about life back then. I read about my grandma being in love, which I never thought of her in that way,” Lori laughed.
Lori’s interest in the postcards started as a teenager, when she discovered hundreds of family postcards in an old trunk. “I was really drawn to them. Maybe because I was the same age as my grandma,” Lori remembered.
Years passed, and after Lori’s dad died, her mom offered her the postcards. “There is a sense of heritage that I get from them,” Lori said. “Around the holidays, I wish they could still be with us.”
- Oldest known postcard: 177 years old; sold for $44,300 in 2002 and depicted postal clerks in a humorous scene
- Deltiology: study and collection of postcards
- Most popular years for postcards: 1907-1910; postal records show over 600 million postcards mailed in the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908
- First American postcard (1873) featured Chicago’s Interstate Industrial Exposition
- Postal Service controlled postcard production until 1898