Most people depend on their cameras and photographs to document the highs and lows of their lives. Especially now, with the dominance of half-decent cameras in smart phones, spontaneous pictures and "selfies" in every possible circumstance are being taken and posted for all to see, Facebook and Instagram friends, future selves, and all.
While I am not claiming to limit my own use of a camera, I would like to introduce a whole new medium to capture memories for posterity: postcards.
I have been collecting postcards since at least fifth grade. I decided at this time that I was the type of person that collected things, and I didn't have such a collection. So I started with postcards; I already had a few, and my mom had more. At the beginning, I was more concerned with filling up my newly purchased album than slowly adding postcards that actually had some meaning. The first six months were rather rocky, as I became focused on quantity rather than quality; I decided to put in some of my mother's postcards of places that "I've visited anyway." And then I just put the Acadia National Park postcard in just for "funzies;" I hadn't even visited Maine at that time.
The featured postcards will be shown in the order that they have been placed in the album. Virtually every postcard is in this album for at least one of the following reasons.
- Category 1: This postcard was sent to me or someone in my family. It is in my album now because I wanted make my postcard collection look bigger and more impressive even though the postcard and/or the sender probably isn't very significant to me. Then there are a few that were sent to me from pen pals or friends that I still think deserve to be there.
- Category 2: I transferred this postcard from my mom's collection (in a file) to mine because I visited this place before I cared about buying a postcard every place I went.
- Category 3: I was away at science camp (whoohoo 6th grade!!!!!) or someplace similar, and my parents saw an excuse to pick away at their random postcard collection by sending me one, adorned with a heartfelt message which probably differed little from the last time they sent me one of these aforementioned postcards.
- Category 4: I purchased this postcard to send to someone but was too lazy at the time, so now it's a part of my collection! Yay!
- Category 5: I purchased this postcard at a significant place I had the honor of visiting between 2006 - 2013 with the sole intention of putting it in my collection, expecting the sight of it alone to bring back significant memories decades later when I glance at it. This moment will probably only occur when I am going through all my stuff and have to decide what crap in my old room I should throw away and what "treasures" I should take with me. The status of this album will be determined when this date grows imminent.
- Category 6: I was such an organized individual that not only did I purchase this postcard for an outstanding price at an ultimate tourist venue, but I also managed to scribble down what I did that day so the mere postcard itself will not have to be stuck with the job of re-jogging my memory decades later in the situation presented in the description of Category 5.
You may later notice that this is, in essence, a brief chronological analysis of the "stories" of the postcards in my collection.
So if you're still here, you must be really bored. I'm sorry something more entertaining is not overstimulating you right now.
So, without further ado, what follows are the beginnings of my postcard collection, with plenty of awkward, funny, and random vacation stories as captions. (For the most historical highlight, see Page 21.) This is only Part 1 to provide a few interesting anecdotes in smaller doses, and to prevent obscene loading times on either end. Enjoy!
This is Volume I. It is not yet full. Volume II is collecting dust in its cellophane, still empty.
Page 1, top: Disneyland, 2007. They didn't sell any patches at any of their ten million gift shops, so I had to settle for a postcard that changes pictures when tilted. Left: Piccadilly Circus, c. 2005. This was from a very brief penpal-ship with a troop of Girl Guides in England. Right: Old Alley Steps in Marblehead, Massachusetts, 2007. A category 3 card from my grandparents when I was at camp.
Page 2, top: Warwick Castle, Jun 2008. A category 1 card. Bottom: York, England, c. 2008. A category 1 card.
Page 3, top: 2006. A category 1 card. Bottom: Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, July 2007. A category 3 card.
Page 4, top: Grand Canyon Nat'l Park. Category 2, as I have never been here. Bottom: Costa Noa, July 2008. The first Category 6 card, and also the first postcard I purchased with the intention of starting a collection.
Page 5, top: Map of California Missions, category 2. Left: El Camino Real bell in Santa Barbara, category 2. Right: Portland, Oregon, category 2. At least I have been to [parts of] each of these venues.
Page 6, top, middle, & bottom: Beauty Bay and Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. All category 2, as these postcards were purchased in the 1980's.
Page 7, top & bottom: Fairyland, Oakland, CA. Category 2; these are also from a few decades before I was born. Middle: Acadia National Park in Maine. I have never been here; category 2.
Page 8, top: Hale Hui Kai (translation: house of the sea) condos on Keawakapu Beach in Kihei, Maui. Our family spent the summers of 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 in a condo in this complex, which is the place of scores of memories at the pool, the beach, and chillin'. Category 2. Bottom: Harris Ranch Hotel, category 2. Though I have never actually stayed here overnight, I have made many a "rest" and "lunch stop" there during our frequent road trips to visit family in San Fernando Valley.
Page 9, top & bottom: Golden Gate Bridge & bird's eye view of San Francisco. Both are category 2.
Noticing a theme of Category 2 here? Well, they were all added on the same day. Looks like someone was bored on a random summer day both six years ago and...right now.
Page 10, top: Moraine Park, Colorado, June 2007. Category 1. Bottom: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, July 2008. Category 1.
Page 11, top: Palm Springs, Dec 2008. Category 1. Left: Tioga Lake, Dec 2008. Category 1. Right: Sabertoothed Cat (the California state fossil, Smilodon fatalis) from the Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Category 6. The tar pits are stationed in a very busy part of the the Los Angeles business district, and were discovered only when construction workers were trying to convert the area into a high-rise building (like the bank my mom worked at during her college summers) and noticed a bunch of dinosaur bones. Well, I guess that triggered a change of plans for the building, and one of the world's best fossil sites was formed where new fossils are still being discovered.
Page 12, top and left: Lake Coeur d'Alene in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which I visited in July 2007. Category 6. One of my mom's best friends from college lives here; her family literally built a lake house here in the sixties. Coeur d'Alene's claim to fame (in the APUSH textbook, at least) was a notable strike among the miners in 1892 that was a factor that helped inaugurate the Populist movement. Right: The Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Aug 2008. The Hoh is one of two rainforests in the world that are not tropical.
Page 13, top: Chinaman's Hat island, O'ahu. Category 2. Bottom: Waimānalo Coastline, O'ahu. Category 2.
Page 14, top and bottom: Hawai'i/Waikiki, Category 5. ca. 2008-2009.
Page 15, top: Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, Jul 2008. Category 1. Bottom: London, July 2008. Category 1.
Page 16, top: Washington State, August 2008. We visited Camano Island, Olympic National Park, and the San Juan Islands. Bottom: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park, August 2008. Category 6. The lupines were even more impressive when we were there; the hiking was just marvelous.
Page 17, top: Lime Kiln Lighthouse, Washington, August 2008, category 6. We hiked here and observed a flying shuttle demonstration here (weaving). Bottom: San Juan Islands, Washington, August 2008, category 6. We took the ferry from Anacortes and camped at Orcas and San Juan Islands. We saw some orcas, a county fair, and great trails.
Page 18, top and bottom: Orcas [near Puget Sound, Washington], August 2008, category 6. Obviously, the bottom postcard is a compilation of several photographs of orcas... ;)
Page 19, top: Sol duc Falls in Olympic National Park, August 2008, category 4. This is one of the postcards purchased in a package of ten or so that didn't get sent to anyone. Bottom: Bald Eagle, August 2008, category 6. An example of Washington wildlife and my preliminary postcard taste.
Page 20, top: San Juan Islands--a bird's eye view--August 2008, category 6. Bottom: Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, August 2008, category 6. There is an interesting story on the origin of this peculiar-named harbor. A sailor from a ship preparing to anchor asked a local "What bay is this?" when the local misheard him and thought he said "What day is this?," responding "Friday!" And thus, Friday Harbor.
Page 21, top: Palo Alto Yacht Harbor, category 2. Bottom: Palo Alto, (c) 1990; category 6. It is interesting to see the different highlights of Palo Alto. The yacht harbor closed in the 1980's and no longer exists, as this expanse of water has now been filled with landfill. This postcard represents a part of Palo Alto history that people don't even know about! As for the "modern" postcard, I have no idea what any of these three "attractions" are or what their significance is. Typical.
Page 22, top: Mission San Juan Capistrano, visited January 2009. Category 6. Bottom: Map of California missions, January 2009, category 6. Middle: Stanford University, category 6. I figured that if I live somewhere foreign or want to compare how the campus has changed sine 2009, this postcard can help document the history most of us fail to give a second thought.
Page 23, top: Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park. August 2008, category 6. Bottom: Squaw Valley USA Ski Resort, 2009. Category 1.
Page 24, top: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose CA. Visited in 5th grade as a grade-wide field trip, purchased later. Category 6. Bottom: Highlights of San Jose, California (including the Winchester Mystery House on the lower-left), category 6.
Page 25, top: Yosemite National Park, May 2009, category 1. Left: The Adventure Trip at Moaning Cavern, California, May 2009. Right: The Rappel at Moaning Cavern, May 2009, category 6. This was the culminating activity of Girl Scouts this year, where we camped a night and did the 165-foot rappel, 3 hour adventure trip in areas far less spacious than the postcard to the left, and walked back up 165 feet worth of spiral steps. I had more adrenaline going during this 24 hour period than probably the entirety of the following year. It was pretty amazing, though.
Page 26, top: Lake Tahoe, site of 1st annual Greenfield fambam reunion, June 2009. Category 6. Left: Mushroom Patch (cave formation) at Moaning Cavern, May 2009. Right: Mountain View, California, 2009. I purchased this for a similar reason as the Stanford postcard.
Page 27, top: Lake Tahoe, June 2009, category 6. Left and right: Bonfante Gardens (a. k. a. Gilroy Gardens), visited June 2009.
Congratulations, if you made it this far, for you have seen the extents to my collection as of "graduating" 7th grade! I hope you come back for Part 2, coming shortly. :)