Collector Spotlight: Postcards show a tiny town celebrating

My name is Joan Roberson. I collect postcards from a tiny town in south-central Pennsylvania. About 350 folks live in Schellsburg, a four-block-long town on the Lincoln Highway, Route 30.

Nearly 85 percent of the buildings in town are more than 100 years old. For this reason in 2001, Schellsburg was designated a historic district and placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service. This was done in recognition of the town’s rich architectural heritage of homes, barns, chicken coops and outhouses constructed of log and stone in the 19th century.

Collecting Schellsburg cards gives me an excuse to dive into postcard boxes at flea markets, antique stores and to do a daily check on eBay. This of course leads to branching out, buying cards just because they’re interesting or fun. And that leads to a subscription to Postcard Collector to learn more about the whole of postcard collecting.

In 1908 Schellsburg celebrated its centennial and recorded the event on – you guessed it – postcards. My collection includes eight different views, though I know more exist.

Because they’re real photos and they are postmarked, we have evidence the celebration took place. We see a wisteria plant adorned with American flas stretching across the main street. Citizens are wearing costumes that included Abe Lincoln, a monk and a bear. Women in long dresses and a band walk down the street. People are holding up signs, and one card shows a float sponsored by C.J. Culp’s Marble Works, a business shown on other advertising postcards and a building totally recognized in town today. Another postcard shows a lady in a long dress with a large bonnet obcuring her face; the card tells that she is Virginia Kemerer, the founder of the centennial celebration.

These postcards are evidence of community pride and spirit. They are a benchmark, the passing of 100 years, the celebration of a job well done. The people on these cards were captured in a moment of great importance to them.

Today Schellsburg is getting ready to celebrate 200 years of existence. I hope there will be postcards commemorating that celebration, too.