Earlier this year I wrote about PermaRec reader Charlene Dodds, who had found a bunch of old postcards sent to and from her great aunt, her grandmother, and their friends during their travels. She planned to visit some of the places shown in the postcards and photograph the sites, creating a series of before-and-after rephotography studies. (For the full story, read the blog entry I wrote about Charlene back in May.)
Charlene promised to let me know how her project was progressing, and she's now kept that promise. Here's the report she recently sent me:
Good stuff. Charlene tells me she eventually worked her way westward across Pennsylvania, then crossed into northeastern Ohio, came back across northern Pennsylvania, and then went through New York City and New Jersey before ending up back in D.C. I hope she'll share more of her photos with us soon.
I was staying with a friend in D.C. while I planned my journey and organized my route. I started by selecting a few dozen of the most interesting postcards, regardless of the date, and plotted them on a map. It turned out they were primarily from Pennsylvania, so that's where I headed. Several of the postcards were sent from the city of York, so I began there.
York, which was laid out in 1741, had an important role in American history. It was the site of the Continental Congress (1777-78) and birthplace of the Articles of Confederation -- our nation’s first constitution. It was here that the words "The United States of America" were first spoken. Also of note, the York Peppermint Patty was first produced here in 1940 by Henry C. Kessler at his York Cone Company.
I started with a postcard showing a building at the center of town, at the intersection of Market and George Streets. My great aunt’s childhood friend wanted to say hello and didn't have a telephone, so this is how she let my great aunt know she was in her thoughts [for all of these images, you can click to enlarge]:
More than a century later, this building still stands with minimal changes, although I had to contend with some trees and an information kiosk that blocked the view somewhat:
York also has a rich railroad history, part of which is reflected in this postcard of a train depot that was sent to my great aunt:
As I walked a few blocks along George Street, I came to the railway station shown in the postcard. It still awaits the stopping trains, although passengers are now rare:
In addition to the postcard locations, I was able to visit various homes my father had lived in as he grew up and easily imagined my aunt and him playing in the enclosed "yard" adjoining the back alley. All in all, a very satisfying visit.