Just my $.28

I’m not sure at what point postcards are going to become obsolete. Unless they become trendy or kitschy, the golden age of postcards has passed. I was recently speaking with a seasonal interpreter who is much younger than I (even though I don’t look my age) about postcards. He said, “In this day and age, do people still send them?”

I have been collecting postcards literally for years. When my family and I visit a place we buy postcards not to send but to help preserve our memories and to be placed into the vacation scrapbook (which my wife maintains and, despite my best efforts, includes Comic Sans). They are also great souvenirs that are cheap and take up very little space compared to the sombrero, foam finger, and adult Mickey Mouse ears hat that I have from other trips and vacations.

My love of postcards began with the ones that I received from friends and family as they traveled from place to place. There was something special about getting something in the mail from someone you cared about from a place where you wish you were. I have tried to keep the tradition alive, but in the world of photo text messages, Twitter and Facebook, my attempt is falling by the wayside along with my back-up files on floppy discs, Polaroid camera, and mix tapes for my boom box.

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I was recently at the Arkansas State Park Annual Superintendent and Museum Directors Conference, and a portion of the training included a field trip to the new Jim A. Gaston Visitor Center at Bull Shoals – White River State Park. This beautiful new facility is placed at a key location and is designed to complement/interpret the resource. It is easy to get caught up with the views of the dramatic landscapes that overlook the Bull Shoals Dam, Bull Shoals Lake and the White River, but I was most enamored with the postcard theme woven throughout the visitor center. This is not a normal reaction. As you enter the center you are welcomed to the park by a collection of over-sized postcards, reminiscent of the style that you would have purchased in the era when the dam was constructed (ca. 1950).

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The “wish you were here” concept was not only used as a welcoming piece but is a consistent part of each interpretive element in the center. It excites me to see consistency in design and interpretive elements. Again, this is not a normal reaction. But after visiting so many parks, museums and nature centers where consistency in design is lost, I really appreciate seeing it completed well. As you exit the visitor center, parting messages are written on the backs of the cards with messages that your experience will emulate.

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I also like things centered and in their place, order the same meals are restaurants time and time again, and have specific rituals while watching the New York Yankees play to ensure a win. Perhaps you should disregard this post as I pop a mix tape into my boom box and I research obsessive compulsive disorders on-line.

6 thoughts on “Just my $.28

  1. There’s definitely a visual vernacular that is specific to post cards, which I love. Unfortunately, most of my friends are the sort of people who send me the “No butts about it” style of postcard.

    Also, I shivered through most of the entire Phillies-Rockies game a few days ago while several layers of sweatshirts and jackets sat in a canvas bag under my seat. I told my wife that I didn’t want to disturb the good luck the Phils were experiencing. When the Rockies scored three in the eighth to take the lead, I added a red hoodie, and the Phils came back to win.

    The karmic gods who oversee lucky clothing items are not to be trifled with.

  2. my pet peeve is the overuse of the word “I” cant tell you how many times I need to work with folks on their cover letters, writing etc and they use an amazing number of I’s to express something they are invovled with.

    I simply circle them all and say make it half this number to start with

    Thanks for the nice blog

  3. Shea, I’m so glad you liked the post card concept and recognized that it recurred throughout the exhibits at Bull Shoals. In the process of designing the exhibits Mr. Jim Gaston collected many, many early postcards of Bull Shoals and other Arkansas state parks which are now available to us. You might have noticed that the entrance sign and logo for Lake Fort Smith State Park (Arkansas) drew inspiration from an early post card of the lake from an overlook on Highway 71.

  4. Yes, postcards are novel. In fact in this day of being buried in emails, those of us who can manage the costs, might try sending attractive postcards as advertisements, program reminders, follow ups to programs etc.

  5. There are thousands and thousands of people across the world who delight in regularly sending real postcards to strangers and receiving the same in return. I have been Postcrossing for over 3 years. Many of my postcard friends have become personal friends. Well in excess of 3 million postcards have been received by participants with many millions more in private trades. The postcard will never die! This is my .28 worth, or .98 for international mail…

  6. I am one of Shea and Paul’s friends (I hope) that actually sends the two postcards when I travel. I know they like them. They send them to me too. It is like getting an unexpected little present in the mail. I save them all. If I had a postcard with me today to mail to Shea, I most certainly would. With a lovely message too …
    The weather is here, wish you were beautiful!
    I would probably add a PS that I still hate the No-Good Stinkin’ Yankees.

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