Vintage postcards from Shoals, Indiana

Robert Olen Butler‘s book, Had a Good Time, is a group of short stories inspired by selections from his collection of vintage postcards. The Atlantic reviewer of Had a Good Time explained, “Butler dug for glimpses of story—or as he says, ‘little fragments of expressed life’—in the written messages on the back.”

It sounds like a wonderful technique for finding stories. Reading the backs of old postcards is like traveling in a time machine to overhear a conversation that took place decades ago.

Here are a couple samples from my postcard collection. Lately I’ve been looking for postcards from my hometown, Shoals, Indiana. These two came up on ebay recently:

Jug Rock postcard

This is a postcard mailed from Shoals in 1912. It shows the Jug Rock, a world-famous rock formation that serves as school mascot and a symbol of civic pride. Go, Jug Rox!

Jug Rock postcard reverse The handwriting is very difficult to read. The card was sent by Casandra [Illegible] to Miss grace B. Tooley(?) of Plainville, Indiana, and reads: “Dear Grace this is a true picture of the jug Rock but is dim but when you come to see me I will take you to see it I am Glad I met you hope will meet you again and have a good time love and best wishes to you Casandra (?).”

Look Out PointThis postcard photo looks out over the East Fork of the White River, looking down from the Pinnacle. My sister and I got in very bad trouble at right about the spot where this photo was taken when we were about 5 and 2. We followed our cousins up the trail, which as I remember, was along a ledge about 4 inches deep, to the Pinnacle after a picnic without asking permission first.


8 Responses

  1. Charlottesville, Va. Public School [McGuffey]
    To Miss Nannie B. Smith 116 1/2 7th Ave. N.W. Roanoke, Va., 1911: Just to let you know I am thinking of you, enjoyed your letter so much and shall write later yours Elizabeth

    Lambeth Field, University of Virginia
    To Mrs Fred. T. Deaver Main St Lexington Virginia, 1920: My Dearest Sadie i received your nice litter this morning so glad to here from you i will be too glad to make them for your Dear One send the goods soon as you can i will do all i can for you will write soon best love to all we are all well Ginnie

    Serpentine Wall–University of Virginia, Charlottesville
    To Miss Mary Duke Church St. Staunton Va, 1926: Dear Sister I hope you are having a nice time LD

    Rotunda, as seen from lawn, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
    To Miss Mildred Smith 1024 Franklin Street Roanoke Rapids North Carolina, 1938: Dear “Skipper”–Why don’t I hear from you anymore? Are you ill, or have you been away? Write real soon. Love Melvin PS. Send my mail to 122 Garrett St.

    Robert E. Lee Monument, Charlottesville, Va.
    To John E. Steey Jr. 1527 Garfield Ave., Wyomissing Pa., 1946: Thurs. April 17–46 Dear Johnny, We are going to leave Charlottesville and drive north over the famous Sky Line Drive. We have had lots of tire trouble but I think all will be fine to-day. Tell your Mother she is to get the next message–Love–Aunt Helen

    Crossing of Skyline Drive and U.S. 250, between Waynesboro and Charlottesville, Virginia
    To Mr & Mrs. Robert N. Bennett Martin Van Buren High School Kinderhook, New York, 1951: Beautiful weather and lovely views. Hope to be in Flordia Monday. We are staying just outside of Harrisbonburg Va. Rose Johnson & family

  2. ::To Miss Mildred Smith 1024 Franklin Street Roanoke Rapids North Carolina, 1938: Dear “Skipper”–Why don’t I hear from you anymore? Are you ill, or have you been away? Write real soon. Love Melvin PS. Send my mail to 122 Garrett St.::

    Definitely a “little fragment of expressed life.”

  3. my father is bill l. worden 83 years old. my deceased grandmather is a troutman, was a school teacher and a twin as well. she and her
    sister at one time owned “hendostan” falls,
    and it is now a state park. just tracing back my family tree and my father has selective memory.
    please send any info you can come uo with,
    thank you so much,
    kelly jo

  4. Hi, Kelly. I bet my parents would remember something about your family. I’ve passed your message along to them and will let you know if I hear anything back.

  5. Kelly Jo, I checked with my family. We all remember Troutmans who lived up by Trinity Springs/Hindostan, but that’s about all we remember. We all live out of state now.

    I suggest contacting the Martin County Historical Society, they have genealogical resources and would probably be happy to help you.

  6. I like the last postcard the best. Reminds me of the view from Q-control, only in sepia-tone.

    Richeson never got the sepia filter working properly until he left the Q-force and purchased a machine with a Floating-Point unit and Adobe Photoshop. Now it works great.

  7. I looked at the 1910 census and found Grace B. Tooley. She is with her father, John D., in Daviess County, Indiana. There is a Casandra H. Guen living with her son in Martin County, Indiana. Wonder if this is the two this postcard is to and from.

  8. How interesting! I never thought of looking at the census records.

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