In the mail: Giving thanks and telling secrets

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Prickly Love Story postcard

Starting in January 2008, postcards of thanks received by artist Damaris Pierce will be posted on her Web site at www.IamThankful.com. Perhaps inspired by the success of PostSecret, Pierce decided that “Giving thanks is not just for Thanksgiving.” She invites everyone to express gratitude on a postcard (any design will do – printed or handmade). When I checked in early December, only a handful of designs were on her site, so I’ll be curious to see how much mail pours in. If you want to participate, she welcomes all postcards. Write The I-Am-Thankful Project, 69 Wamboldt Ave., Asheville, NC 28806.

On Oct. 7, 2007, the weekly dose of PostSecret opened with a video on www.youtube.com, a promotion for A Secret Life, Frank Warren’s latest book. It’s packed with secrets on postcards that he’d never before shared with the public. The video features book shop customers inserting their own postcards into his books. Frank’s fourth PostSecret book retails for $27.95 but sells for less at amazon.com. And remember, the secrets change each Sunday at www.postsecret.com.

Looking to pass some time online? Check out the Urban Dictionary’s 30 uses for “postcard” at www.urbandictionary.com. Even though the word itself has yet to be defined, you can find the useful term “flotsamag,” which explains away those flimsy advertising postcards that get tipped and blown into magazines. Another entry rants about Los Angeles and summarizes it as “a pretty postcard place gone terribly wrong.” Oddly, the site’s final usage is the PBS show Postcards from Buster, which was actually a spin-off of Arthur, an earlier Marc Brown animated program. In my book postcard collection, I found this 1998 cover card that pictures Buster (the bunny on the left) with his friend Arthur (the aardvark on the right).

The staff at the Curt Teich Postcard Archives has been busy. A new 13-page postcard gifts catalog bursting with individual cards, books, posters and tippy pens can be viewed at www.TeichArchives.org. And it’s time again for their Postcard Art Competition and Exhibition 2007 (PACE 2007). For the current bi-annual exhibition, 468 postcard-sized entries were received. Of these, 12 were selected to be printed as postcards and issued as a set. A slideshow of the winners can be viewed at their Web site and previous sets are for sale in the catalog. The PACE 2007 set, which includes this prickly Love Story by Richard Johnson, costs $8.50 postage paid (check or credit card only). Write PACE Postcards, 27277 Forest Preserve Rd., Wauconda, IL 60084.

If you ever have the chance to visit Springfield, Ill., do not miss the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. We toured there before Thanksgiving and I was amazed at how enjoyable the museum turned out to be. Not only are there recognizable figures from throughout Lincoln’s career, but you can be photographed with lifelike recreations of the 16th president and his family. And on top of that, the displays are fantastic and the two films quite amazing. They have done a nice job, too, in the gift shop where a dozen postcards are for sale. These show Lincoln looking directly at the camera; the museum’s official seal over an American flag; day and night views of the museum; Lincoln as a young man toting a book, reading by the fireplace, debating Stephen Douglas and posing with his family; Mary Todd Lincoln dressed in an array of finery; a simulated slave market; a map of Civil War battles; and one that was issued for the special exhibit titled “Mrs. President from Martha to Laura.” The 4 1/8-inch by 6-inch postcards cost 69 cents each or four for $2. To receive all 12, the price is $6 plus 42 cents tax (required from Illinois residents). An unusual spin on payment is that no checks are accepted: only money orders and credit cards. To order, send payment along with a sturdy self-addressed stamped envelope with 75 cents unused postage affixed. If you prefer to call in your credit card number, phone 217-558-8974. Write Carol Wood, Museum Store, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62701.

As I predicted last spring when a postcard, written by then-college student Bill Clinton to his grandmother Edith “Mammaw” Cassidy, sold for $850 on eBay – more would follow. This “world’s largest watermelon” with racial overtones was a huge hit in October at the R&R online auction. Selling for $6,811.56, which includes the buyer’s premium, the Associated Litho white-border postcard came from Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Ark. Postmarked Feb. 2, 1966, it was actually one of several that Mammaw shared with her grandson as he acknowledged: “Thought I would send you one of your cards just to prove I am using them!” As the catalog description declares, this is “a most remarkable and revealing item from a president whose legacy only continues to evolve.”

Oct. 30 was the release date for a ten-disc definitive set for Twin Peaks, the quirky 1990 series from director David Lynch. Since my husband George and I were such fans that we joined a weekly Twin Peaks club here in Chicago to watch and discuss the episodes while sometimes biting into slices of cherry pie, I had to purchase this newly remastered set that contains all 29 episodes plus the original pilot. This seemed especially necessary upon learning that “for a limited time, 12 collectible postcards will be included with each definitive gold box.” When I finally opened my DVD set to write this column, I was primarily curious about the postcards. Let me tell you, for a Twin Peaks fan and a postcard collector, these are neat, neat, neat! From what I’ve read, I was lucky to receive a dozen different continental postcards that arrive in this “Greeting from Twin Peaks” folder. They’re glossy, gorgeous scenes and characters from the cult series. A pictorial checklist for the entire run of 61 numbered postcards can be viewed at www.greetingsfromtwinpeaks.com.

While Christmas shopping at Chicago’s Newberry Library, I found a clever 2008 spiral-bound datebook filled with illustrations by Edward Gorey. Published by Pomegranate, the datebook intersperses its calendar pages with 26 Gorey postcards that are perforated on one wide end and can be detached for sending. Excerpted sections from each postcard are added to the preceding calendar page (and sometimes the previous page, too). It’s a really nifty design for $12.99 plus postage from the publisher’s Web site at www.pomegranate.com. Before placing your order, though, be sure to check the dozens of other postcard items that Pomegranate offers.

Two new Rick Geary postcards celebrate Oklahoma. “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’ …” illustrates the Panhandle State that’s crossed by Route 66. This card served as the Tulsa Postcard Club’s 2007 National Postcard Week edition. The other postcard from Tulsa broadcasts “Happy Anniversary” and commemorates Oklahoma’s centennial as well as the Tulsa Stamp Club (75th), Buried Belvedere (50th) and Tulsa Postcard Club (25th), while also laying claim to the title “Art Deco capital of Route 66.” There’s lots going on here! This pair of postcards goes for $5 plus $1 to cover postage. Write Dick Poore, President of the Tulsa Postcard Club, P.O. Box 471005, Tulsa, OK 74147.

The easiest way to “experience the magic of chocolate making in Hershey, PA” is via this oversized Hershey’s milk chocolate postcard onto which a tiny DVD is attached via a layer of clingy clear plastic. For a Halloween treat, George bought me this novel item at the Hershey store here in Chicago. It cost $9.95 and came packaged in a sturdy sleeve. I later saw the postcard DVD on eBay for lower prices. The DVD lasts about six minutes and taught me more about the harvesting and manufacture of chocolate than did our trip to this cocoa-scented town last spring since, alas, factory tours are no longer provided. The postcard is also a superlative because as the reverse-side states, Hershey’s “is the largest chocolate producing plant in the world.”

California’s Mill Valley Public Library must be a dandy place. Otherwise, why would young patrons mail the library more than 50 postcards during their various family vacations? According Web Librarian Michele Hampshire, kids who participated in last summer’s reading program could also sign up to send postcards. They were given a kit that included such goodies as a mini-address book, travel game suggestions, instructions on how to write a postcard and two 26-cent postage stamps. Kids, who ranged from pre-school up to 12 years old, sent postcards from diverse places like Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, New York’s Finger Lakes, Martha’s Vineyard, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, and Orange County, Calif. (above) To see fronts and backs of all the “Wish You Were Here” postcards the library received, check www.flickr.com/photo/millvalleylibrary.

Whether you’re leading a nation to freedom  …  or just searching for a chai tea latte,” this m@x racks card delivers a clever reinterpretation of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Thanks to Jackie Ben-Efraim for sharing a big stack of this rack card spoof of the famous 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze. Note the fellow in the back of the boat who’s holding a GPS gadget. I have plenty of these 4-1/4-inch by 6-inch promotional gems, so please send me a note and an appropriately sized SASE. Write Jennifer Henderson, 1610 West Highland Box 23, Chicago, IL 60660. And with three presidents mentioned in this column, it seems fitting to wish everybody a Happy President’s Day on February 18.

– I get a charge out of supplying different headshots for each What’s in the Mail column. This time on a frigid November morning in 2005 (hence the earmuffs), I posed beside the bright red mailbox in front of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa.

Suggestions for future columns are welcome and can be mailed to the address above or via email to noodles@xsite.net.

More Images:

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A Lifetime of Secrets
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Arthur postcard
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Greetings from Twin Peaks
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2008 spiral-bound datebook
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oversized Hershey's milk chocolate postcard
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Washington Crossing the Delaware postcard

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