Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday: Hawaii Goes Postal

Post Office, Honolulu Hawaii, 1871-1922

In the above postcard, directly to the right of the P.O. you will see a smaller recessed building which served as the post office in 1851.

Aloha and mele (merry) Postcard Friendship Friday! Today in History, October 1, 1851, saw the issue of the first Hawaii Postage stamps.

13 Cent Missionary Stamp

The new stamps were printed in four denominations, including the 13 cent stamp which was used for mail going to the east coast of the United States. These first stamps were known as the Missionary Stamps. The stamp shown in the above picture was hand canceled, probably by using a sponge and red ink according to a very helpful website I referenced for this post: Post Office in Paradise.

Letter with Two Cent Missionary Stamps

This letter, posted on the issue date was sent to 273 Cherry Street on Manhattan Island, New York near the edge of the East River.

Which looked like this.
Cherry St. is on the right side that "thumb", just above the curve.

Hawaii's Postmaster General Henry Whitney

Who looked like this.

Henry Whitney was appointed first Postmaster General of Hawaii. He oversaw the printing of the first stamps, he also appointed postmasters throughout the Islands, and set up regular overland and steamship mail routes within the islands. Prior to the organized mail delivery, messages were sent by word of mouth, or by letters entrusted to travelers, steamship captains and friends going in the general area of the delivery site. Imagine, if you will, a word of mouth message:

"Miz Matilda, a dismal bloke by the name of William Perty said to come and tell you he's wanting to break off your engagement. Lookin' at you, I can't for the life of me see why he would want to do that, but none the less, he sends his regrets and implores you to send the bloody ring back as it belongs to his dear mother, who I remember to be quite the sour sort, so if you ask me, you should look upon this not as a misfortune but as an opportunity to find someone who deserves a pretty lass like you. A brighter bloke, perhaps, who is a little less "light on his feet" (not that there is anything wrong with that) and who doesn't sip his soup like a frigging canary. Anyway, Miz. That's the message. I'll be happy to help you up off the street now, dust you off, and find you some smelling salts if you like before I go search out Mr. Whorton Mullgoon and let him know his bank went bust and his entire family has been blowed into the Atlantic by a nasty cyclone."

If you understand the mountainous geography of the Islands you will know that mail delivery was difficult, treacherous at times, and slow.

Hawaii Postage Paid Post Card

This 2 cent postcard made it's way from Hawaii to Java in just over a year. It was mailed in January 1896 and arrived in February 1897. The postmarks show part of the mailing rout: Honolulu/San Francisco/New York/England/Batvia/Suez/Java.

Early overseas mail was entrusted to travelers, ships captains or ships chandlers. Arrival depended on the trustworthiness of the bearer and the ship arriving safely in port. Copies of legal documents and important papers were often sent on several ships. Should one ship meet with disaster, another would deliver a copy of the document.

Hawaii's ports, naval stations and trade routes, circa 1850.

US mail came in via San Francisco.

Message and Reply Card

This 1883 two sided Message and Reply Card included paid postage and a perforation for folding and tearing.

I gathered information for this post with the help of Wikipedia and the Post Office in Paradise and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed learning about posting letters in paradise!

Stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday. Also, take time to find and read Eudora Welty's short story "Why I Live At the P.O." It's a delightful read.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poetry Bus - A Faery Tale

Cinderella's Castle
My submission for Postcard Friendship Friday (Postmarked May, 1977) has taken a late seat on the Poetry Bus.
Funny that the writer, Judy, should mention her feet! Perhaps the glass slippers were a poor choice for the day. And then, there's that quaint "You All". Don't ya'll know it's pronounced ya'll, Judy? Have some hushpuppies an' grits, and ya'll will start saying it right.

This week the first stop for the Poetry Bus is on More About The Song - Rambling with Rachel Fox

Rachel has asked all Poetry Bus patrons to write a poem based on a character from a children's story, book, comic etc. I chose my all time favorite, Cinderella.

We all think of Cinderella as a 19th century Grimm's Brother's tale, but the Cinderella theme has been in existence for thousands of years and may have originated in Greece about 100 BC.

The story we are most familiar with - the one with mice and pumpkins, was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. According to Wikipedia, the French title was "Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre" - or - "Cinderella with the little shoes of glass". The original shoes were described as being made of fur - probably that of a grey squirrel. Those might have been more comfy than glass slippers but certainly not as beautiful - or magical!

Cinderella's life was quite a happy one until the untimely death of her beautiful mother. As we all know, her wicked step-mother made life miserable for the child. Her mother, however, had instilled her with the charm and grace so valued in that time. Those are the qualities, along with her beauty, that saved her from her miserable life - with a little help from her Fairy Godmother. Perhaps her mother also gave her some very important advice:

Some Vine Advice for Cinderella

I tiptoed to my mother's bed

Lest Nurse should find me there

To tuck in all the covers

And brush her golden hair

Her sun would set within the hour

But for now she was my own

She whispered in her fading voice

" Child you'll not be left alone

Faeries will watch over you

They live in garden yon

And will console your splintered heart

When you are set upon"

She gave to me a tiny gift

All wrapped in cloth-of-gold

And brightly sewn with little pearls

At the edges and the fold

"Please, Daughter take the seeds within

This pretty little packet

And plant them on your 16th year

with care as sweet as sacket

Rake and hoe consistently

And daily give a dunkin'

You never know...the day may come

When you will need a pumpkin."

Cynthia Ann Conciatu 09/26/10

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poetry Bus Ride - Hurricane Season

I discovered Poetry Bus, hosted this week by Delusions of Adequacy. Might be just the thing to get me writing again! I'll fall back on a pre-written poem for this week's theme: weddings. I'll fall back even further and add "anniversary" to the wedding theme:

Hurricane Season

(To My Husband on the Occasion of Our 29th Wedding Anniversary)

About the time the last spiral bands

Of Georges fade from the sky

We’ll set our own path

You and I

As we approach a common attitude

At a latitude and longitude

Of twenty-nine

All the time continuing

Slowly to the north

And west

Toward thirty

As always

Our divergent paths

Track at different speeds

And varied intensities

With diverse priorities

The only commonality

The uncanny calm

Found within our eyes

The ability to see beyond our storms

Enough respect to weather our differences

A capacity to withstand destructive elements

For those who speculate upon our strength

Our potential for landfall

Our ability to endure

We say

Buy Spam

Cynthia Ann Conciatu 1998

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sepia Saturday - Mystery Celebration - page 33

I recently purchased another of the series of Images of America books by Arcadia Publishing. Today's Sepia Saturday picture is taken from Detroit's Polonia, by Cecile Wendt Jensen, a pictorial look at the old Polish neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan.

The picture is a bit of a of a mystery: The groom is named Edmund Grocholski. There is at least one Edmund Grocholski in my paternal family tree, and Detroit Grocholski's are pretty much all related to each other. Edmund is the son of my great uncle Ignatz, and he would have been about 21 - 23 years old when this picture was taken.

The groom may be standing just to the right of the bride. His pose is certainly that of a groom. If that is the case, he appears to be in his late 30's and would not be the distant cousin Edmond in my family tree.

I thought perhaps the man seated just to the left of the priest might be the groom and has seated himself next to his mother for the shot. He certainly (and several others) looks very much like a Grocholski.

And then there's the bride. Does she look to be in her early twenties? It appears she may be older - close to thirty, perhaps? What do you think? Her father is the fellow with the white beard seated among the women to her left.

There is one person in the picture who said to me "Yes this IS your family!" That is my great Grandmother, Rosalia Grocholski, seated third from the left of the priest! She is wearing the dark dress. What a wonderful surprise it was to see her smiling back at me when I turned to page 33.

I have written to the author to see if she can shed some light on who is who in this beautiful old photo. In the meantime I am hoping that the good looking - and "Grocholski" looking gentleman seated next to Rosalia is my great Grandfather, Stanley (Stanislaus). It would be nice to know what he looked like!

The pretty plant from whence we got our name, Grocholski

Click here for more Sepia Saturday surprises

Friday, September 17, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Why Am I Here?

It's Postcard Friendship Friday! Today's postcard shows Ellis Island and was written January 21, 1908 to inform a friend of a safe arrival. There are as many stories of immigration as there are immigrants. I wondered what my owned family's stories were. They did not pass through Ellis Island. It was not yet built. Three generations ago, the parents of my grandparents came as young children. They came from Poland on the heels of the Civil War and settled in the Polish neighborhoods of Detroit.

When we think of Poland we think of...well Poland. However, since the abdication of the last Polish king in the 1700's, the land has been partitioned like a pie, invaded, swiped and governed by other countries. The story is told by what my grandparents wrote on the census documents, death certificates, WWI Draft documents and Naturalization papers: German Poland, Prussian Poland, Russian Poland, Polish Russia, Polish Germany, Prussia, Russia, and Germany. Some said they were from Poland. Good for them. That shows the Polish spirit that survived over 200 years of living in an ever changing section of what often looked like a pie chart.

We watched the movie Letters From Iwo Jima last night. The story, a rather common one, told by one of the characters is similar to what happened in Poland. The commanding officer of the small Japanese army, ordered to keep the island from the Americans, reminded a private that he was a soldier. The young man said: I am not a soldier. I am just a lowly baker. My wife and I owned a nice bakery where we worked hard and made sweet buns to sell. The elite army came and they just took the buns. When we ran out of sugar we made bread. They took the bread. Then we made sandwiches and they took those. When those were gone they took all of the metal utensils to make guns and planes and we had nothing to bake bread in. We just had each other, but now they have taken me and my wife is all alone.

This was the same story of the wave of Polish immigrants that came with my forebears. They came with education, trades, and pride in their country. Some perhaps planned to return one day. The Prussians, Germans and Russians took all but their hope, so they came to the land that others described as a place where they could find a job and where they were allowed to think for themselves, even to speak their own language among themselves and there would be enough sausages for everyone.

So that's why I am here.

Stop by and see Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday Links.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sepia Saturday - Photoshop 1917

Are you really there?

Today's sepia shot is an interesting picture from the Conciatu family album! The Mister's great grandparents, Florean and Emelia are seated. Their son, Michael is standing directly behind Florean. Michael's wife, also named Emelia, is standing directly to the left of Florean. I have not yet dated the photo, nor have I identified anyone else in the picture. Not yet. I'm working on it. Based on the dress and the youthful look of Michael I think 1917 is a fair guess.

This picture was obviously photoshopped. Looking to the right of Michael you will see a man in Edwardian dress with a cut and paste line around him. My thought - he was no longer alive when the photo was made so it is appropriate, I guess, that the cut-out line is coincidentally shaped just like a coffin. Also, the background and the floor around the people to the far left does not fit the background of the rest of the picture. I have the picture of the couple in the same exact pose that was used for this family photo add-on.

I imagine that this type of collage picture was common at the time. Once Uncle Teddy and Aunt Lydia moved to America the only way to get families together for a photo op was by cut and paste. Not to mention Uncle poor Eddy who passed on a few years back.

Speaking of America, it is Patriot's Day - a day to celebrate life and to pause to remember 9/11/2001.

It's Sepia Saturday - link here to visit our Sepia Saturday friends!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - And Sew it Began

Birthplace of Elias Howe, Spencer MA

Postmark March 9 1908, Athol MA

Birthplace Of Elias Howe, Spencer MA

Postmark November 27, 1908

Elias Howe 1819-1867

Today in History marks the invention of Elias Howe's lock stitch sewing machine. Elias, who came from an old and very inventive New England family, received his patent on September 10, 1846. His was not the first sewing machine, but it gave the users locked stitches and allowed the material to enter the stitching area vertically rather than horizontally.

The Elias Howe Sewing Machine 9/10/1846

Elias Howe entered Spencer, MA at birth in 1819

The first postcard of Howe's birthplace was mailed from Athol, MA in 1908. The postcard above shows a bird's eye view of Athol and was also dated 1908!

The card was mailed to Woodsville, NH. The postcard above shows a bird's eye view of Woodsville dated 1908 as well!

Manufactured Shirtwaists - 1906

The sewing machine gave rise to economically priced, mass produced clothing. The postcard writers and receivers most likely wore mass produced shirtwaists similar to those shown in this picture dated 1906. The working class wore shirtwaists because they were affordable, while the upper class and suffragettes wore them because because they were stylish and comfortable and were a sign of of freedom from confining dresses and suits.

Sweatshop circa 1906

Sweatshops were not unique to the invention of the sewing machine. They had already existed in some form for hundreds of years. Like all sweatshops the conditions were deplorable: long hours, poor pay, unsafe, dirty and dusty conditions, and grueling, repetitious work. Many girls started working on their 14th birthday - this, after laws were enacted to keep children as young as 5 and 6 in school and out of the workplace. The tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire signaled the end of this slave type labor. Unions formed and oversaw working conditions, pay increases and safety issues.

Is There a Pattern Here?

Simplicity Pattern 5343 - 1963

Tissue paper patterns started showing up on the market during the depression so women who could afford to buy cloth could sew stylish clothing at home. Large families and those who actually enjoyed sewing continued to do so until well into the 70's. Most homes had a sewing room or at least a sewing corner. Sewing was taught in schools. Women's lib brought an end to the popularity and the necessity of home sewing - but, thankfully, not for those artistic souls who still create aprons for their granddaughters and quilts like their great grandmothers made. There are those who just enjoy the feel of fabric, love the sound of the interlocking thread needle and appreciate the satisfaction of basting and hemming colorful homemade beauty.

Most of my growing up clothes were homemade: matching mother and daughter skirts, First Communion dress and my Senior Prom and Graduation gowns.

I sewed some of my own clothing for my first job - mostly using patterns of 2 pieces or less, no zippers, no pockets and if I could have gotten away with no hem I would have done that too. Facing and darts were my nemesis. I made two skirts with the zipper on the wrong side. Whatever. I made a dress in HomeEc and outgrew it before it was even finished.

And sew it began and sew it continues.

Visit Beth at The Best Hearts are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday fun!