The photo Christmas card, once a popular trend, is dying.
USA Today reported last year that the US Mail no longer handles as many pieces of mail at Christmas. As to why, the newspaper quoted Randall Martin, Jr. who wouldn't give a thought to sending greeting cards the old-fashioned way.: "Why send a card through snail mail? There's an app for that," says Martin, who runs a Birmingham, Ala., technology business and extends his holiday wishes, as he did this comment, digitally.
When you can share your family photos immediately to your entire social network, some people find the annual mailing redundant. Why send a photo postcard updating your friends and family on your past year when they already know everything about your life, thanks to Instagram, Facebook, or other networking sites.
But I hate to see the end to the Christmas tradition of photo postcards that began more than a century ago. Here's an image from Morningside at the beginning of the personal photo postcard craze.
Harriet Emerson and son Waldo stand before their new home at 4232 Grimes Avenue in 1910. Harriet's husband Byron presumably stood behind the new Kodak camera that allowed ordinary citizens to document their lives. The film was printed on a special postcard format paper, so the photographer could send his photo to friends and family.
For my younger readers, think of it as Intagram of the previous century.
As you can see, postage was only one cent. (For some perspective, regular mail cost two cents.)
I don't know why "July 1910" is written on the back. If that's the receipt date, you can see why the postal service has been called "snail mail."
The address seems incomplete by today's standards. However, there is a 1612 Hillside Avenue in Minneapolis, so perhaps that's what "City" means.
We can give you a better look at the happy couple. Thanks to their grandchildren's donations to our collection, we have this wedding photo as well as Harriet's wedding dress.
Byron, or B. T. as he was better known, actively took part in the new neighborhood. He opposed Morningside's proposal to secede, speaking against the idea at community meetings and this letter to the editor that ended with this paragraph:
"Therefore – Morningside should not separate from Edina because: 1st, it has been treated well as a part of that village; 2nd, no guarantees have been given as to the cost of running a new village, nor of its initial cost; 3rd, the school situation is much better as the village is now; and 4th, the area of the proposed new village is too small."
His will did not prevail, and Morningside did secede in 1920 and remained an independent village for almost 50 years. His neighbors apparently bore him no ill will, since they later elected him to serve on the school board. Emerson was a chemistry teacher at Central High School in Minneapolis.
Real photo postcards of the past century provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of a city's residents, and I'm happy to have the Emersons' 1910 Christmas greeting in our collection. We'd be happy to have yours as well, whether its from from 1910 (near the beginning of the postcard craze) or 2010 (possibly near the end?) Put us on your Christmas card list or bring in your favorite photo postcard, especially if it shows an Edina scene like this one. If you have questions, please email me.
My apologies for talking about Christmas before Halloween. Normally, I don't think about Dec. 25 until after Thanksgiving, but I made an exception for this great photo postcard. Happy Friday, everyone!
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