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.
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).
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.
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.