Thursday, July 26, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 49

 Soldiers Home, Santa Monica, California, 1908

One of the last official things President Abraham Lincoln did in 1865 was sign legislation for the care and provision of volunteer (temporary) soldiers versus career military.  Up until this time volunteers had not been eligible for such care.  There were several of these “Old Soldiers Homes” in the United States this one shown on the postcard above in Santa Monica, California was established in 1887 with a 300 acre donation of land that later grew until it reached approximately 700 acres, 20 of those set aside for use as a veterans’ cemetery.  Originally these homes were for veterans of the Civil War but later it included “all honorably discharged officers, soldiers and sailors who served in regular or volunteer forces of the US in any war and were disabled or who had no adequate means of support and were incapable of earning a living.“ The rules were adjusted in 1908 to also accommodate those who had served in undeclared Indian wars.  In the 1920s rehabilitation as well as hospitalization was available. 

It was almost like a small town and included barracks, a chapel, a theater, a streetcar and a hospital.  Pine trees, palms, and eucalyptus groves were planted to transform the site from its natural barren state.  This particular Soldiers Home was called the Sawtelle Veterans Home and was also a tourist attraction.  In 1904 it became a hot air balloon stop.  There were escorted streetcar tours too.  By 1905 real estate developers had opened residential lots and larger tracts in the Westgate Subdivision, which joined the “beautiful Soldier’s Home.”  As a result the new community of Sawtelle grew up around the area and veterans and their families who were drawing relief settled there.

The hospital, first called Barry Hospital, was later replaced by Wadsworth Hospital, which opened in 1927.  Most of the 1890s era buildings were demolished in the 1960s and the Veterans Affairs (VA Wadsworth Medical Center) was opened in 1977.  It is the largest of the VA’s health care campuses and is part of the VA Desert Pacific Network. 

 Reverse side, Soldiers Home postcard

The card took a penny stamp to mail, was published by Newman Postcard Co. of Los Angeles, California but made in Germany, and is numbered F 5.  The handwritten message is cute too—“Long Beach-Cal July 16th, 08   Mr. & Mrs. Lee  Dear Friends.  I have a fine time.  Long Beach, Venice and Santa Monica are the finest Beach I ever saw 30 miles from Los Angeles.  The finest Bath House, Dance Halls, Hotels I ever see.  People from all over the U.S. come here and spent their time of leisure.  It looks like Sunday every day.  It is the place for the Rich.  Soldiers Home are 3000 veterans—300 acres.  Your O.F. Rier Hotel Leondie”

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