Sunday, October 20, 2019

Another old Post Card

This card features my favorite island and favorite class of small racing dinghy:

The Moths pictured here are quite primitive and appear to date to the very early 1930s. They feature transom bows and probably have heavy, pivoting centerboards rather than "jab" or "dagger" boards which were introduced to the class by the mid-1930s.  Although the card is postmarked August 25, 1938 the card probably was available in drug stores and novelty shops well before that date  Hull shapes changed at a revolutionary pace rather than an evolutionary one during that first decade.  By 1938 the Moth Class had round bilge shapes such as Antares, Stormy, and Imp Too.  I can just make out the name Pluto on the side of the boat closest to the camera.  It was a tradition in the old Evening Star Yacht Club to name Moths after stars, planets, constellations, etc. and so while this race is taking place in Brigantine,  no doubt most of the fleet is from the ESYC in nearby Atlantic City.  The presence of boats with two digit sail numbers is another clue to the correct age of the image.  The boat sporting "LE 3" on the sail is probably a visitor from the Little Egg YC, which like many Barnegat Bay clubs used their own fleet numbering system rather than that of the fledgling National Moth Boat Association.

The ink on the reverse side of the card is faded to the point where I had to resort to the aid of a small magnifying glass to make out the message and address.  The card is addressed to a Mrs. W. Helm at Box 6-5-2, Laurel Springs, NJ.  That's interesting in as much as Laurel Springs is less than 50 miles from Atlantic City.  I purchased the card from a vendor in New Castle, Kentucky.  One wonders how the card traveled so far after it's first trip through the mail?  One also wonders if this card is the sole survivor of this photograph?  Turning to the message, the writer is someone named Priscilla.  Priscilla, a woman of few words, wants Mrs. Helm and family to know that she's having a good time in Atlantic City.  She doesn't add on the well used line of  "wish you were here".  One reads into this that Priscilla, although concerned with the Helm family's well being, didn't particularly want them under foot during her brief spell of R and R by the sea.  Other notables and ponderables  seen on this side of the card include the fact that Brigantine Beach was considered "Atlantic City's smartest suburb".  Really, Brigantine, a separate island, a suburb?  One wonders if Ventnor, Margate and Long Port (towns on the same Absecon island as AC) were also considered suburbs of the "big" town?  Note that postage was just a penny.  The stamp of course predates the self stick variety we know today.  Back then one had to lick the stamp (or otherwise moisten the adhesive) before applying it to the card.  If I wanted to carefully lift the stamp off the card and then solubilize both, perhaps there would be enough extractable DNA from that lick to learn a bit about the mysterious Priscilla, such as her ethnicity, predisposition to a laundry list of chronic diseases and so on.  But, like Mrs. Helm, Priscilla is probably no longer with  us--the card we know from the postmark is 81 years old.  The sender and recipient were perhaps in their late teens to early 20s, so by now would either pushing 100 or beyond that age.  No, I will allow Priscilla to sleep in peace and enjoy the card as it is--a rare surviving window into a world which, like the folks involved, no longer exists.