Monday, December 18, 2006

Lives in Letters: Postcard from the Erie Canal

I love this postcard for the front and the back. Both are so wonderfully dated!

Postcard
Canajoharie
Palatine Bridge, NY
July 27, 1913
.
.
Addressed to
Mr. G.H. S-
Haledon, N.J.

Pre-printed on Front:
.
Lots doing at Canajoharie
How would you like to be me.
I certainly like this job
.
Message:

Been working hard
lately coming thru
the canal. Have
5 more days or so of
it. 72 locks. This is
some place. They
make Beechnut
Bacon here.
Swede
Notes:
.
On the front, take a look at the outfits in the picture. They seem even older than 1913 somehow. The pose is classic as well, as the man helps the lady with her shoe.
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Also, this is another of the postcards where the location on the front (in this case Canajoharie) can vary. You don't see a lot of those anymore.
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I love that this message is from Swede. It's such a perfectly wonderful name for a young guy working on a canal-boat in northern NY.
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A canal boat? Sure. Palatine Bridge and Canajoharie are right along the Mohawk River, and the Erie Canal follows the Mohawk River. The Erie Canal was built in the 19th century to connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and it was instrumental in putting many New York towns on the map along the way. This, from eriecanal.org:
The Erie Canal, begun in 1817, was a triumph of early engineering in the United States and one of the most ambitious construction projects of nineteenth-century America. It was longer by far than any other canal previously built in Europe or America, crossing rivers and valleys, cutting through deep rock, and passing through marshes and forests in its 363-mile course across New York State.
In 1913, it was still the "old" Erie Canal, before a major new construction left much of the original abandoned for a wider and more modern structure in 1918. You can see some photos of the original Erie Canal here.
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Note that for Swede, it was going to take another 5 days to get through the canal. That's because they had to go from lock to lock, wait in line at each one, get raised up in the lock and passed to the next section. 72 times.
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Okay, and what's this about Beech-nut bacon? Bacon??? Yes, you read correctly. The makers of the well-known baby foods got their start in Canajoharie, NY, making ham and bacon. Check out this entry in Wikipedia for more info. Or even better, read this bit of 1920's Beech-Nut propoganda. Here's a highlight:
The story of Beech-Nut is a typical romance of American business. It is the story of several country boys in Canajohari, NY, "all going in together," to make fine and wholesome foods.

They started with hams; then bacon. The idea of a bacon with distinctive flavor just
seemed to come up naturally and grow naturally....
I especially liked this bit:
It starts way back with the natural foods. Only the best may pass the Beech-Nut Portals of Vigilance.

2 comments:

Cris said...

Hi, I'm a fourth grade teacher currently looking for primary documents about the Erie Canal. I love this post card. Where did you find it? Are there more like it? Great blog.

Maria

Nancy said...

Hi Cris.

I got this one at either a flea market or an antique shop. I collect old postcards with handwritten messages on them.

I don't have any others about the Erie Canal, at least not that I can remember.

Thanks for the compliment about the blog. It's been a while since I've done anything with it, but I enjoyed it when I did.

Any help I can offer?

Nancy