We’ve discussed this before: the postcard was a twentieth century text message. For a few pennies, you could send a brief note across town in a couple of hours. The postcard companies knew what you were doing, and provided cards which came with pre-written sentiments which would start the message for you so you could just add a couple of personal details. There were postcards which could call out to the recipient any possible basic message, from “I hear you’re getting better but aren’t well yet” to “I’m going to drop in on You Tuesday”. The greeting cards available today are just a pale shadow of what postcards once offered. There were dozens where the message on the front was simply “I’ve got no reason to write but I felt like it.”
I haven’t done an extensive survey, but among the top ten most sent messages seems to have been “Why Don’t You Write to me?”
(That’s a skunk, so it’s one of the “most-Scent messages”. Get it? Okay, be that way.)
Starting with that essential message, there were different degrees of message. You could start with the idea that you were worried that you hadn’t heard lately.
Or you could toss a smile at the person, just pointing out that I’m writing to you, so now you owe me.
Or remind them how it made you feel when you got a letter or postcard from them.
But by far, the preferred technique was guilt, letting them know how you felt when you DIDN’T get that letter.
The guilt could be light, pointing out to the recipient how cute you were and how you were just waiting around for that message.
Or, in wartime, it could be a reminder that it was part of your duty to the morale of our loyal members of the service to write.
There were, after all, no wartime shortages of stamps, at least.
And it’s not as if you could beg off on the grounds of poverty.
Throw an excuse at them to start the message, to let them know THAT one won’t work.
The message of the card was simply “You are Guilty of Not Writing. You KNOW what to Do About It.”
(Next installment: I Know I Haven’t Written Lately, But….)