Thursday, September 8, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 263

 Women with water jars along the Nile River, ca 1915

I found this interesting, different sized postcard in a small local antique shop.  The sepia toned photograph shows Egyptian women filling and carrying water jars along the banks of the Nile River.  A line of palm trees can be seen on the opposite shore.  The card has crinkled edges and measures 5 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches; most cards are 3 X 5 or 4 X 6.  This one has barely enough room for an address to say nothing of a message but a message has been included. 

Carrying burdens on the head like the women in the picture instead of on the back is common in many places throughout the world and has been since ancient times.  This practice would certainly require good posture and balance as well as a strong neck.  Water would have been needed every day and these water jugs must have been extremely heavy.  


Used postcards can have so many unanswered questions about places and people.  Although it is not possible to decipher the cancellation date with any degree of accuracy, the sphinx and pyramid stamp on the card was a design that was used between 1888 and 1940.  Most divided back cards date from around 1907 suggesting this card was sent after that time.   I did a little poking around to see if I could date the card by the addressee, Mrs. Fred Graham of Hepburn, Iowa.  I found Elizabeth L. Dyke married to Fred Graham in 1908.  Their first child was one year and 2 months old when the 1910 census was taken.  Their second child was age 7 on the 1920 census.   

The message on the card reads:  “Howdy Lizzie—How are the little flock by this time.  This child is well and having the time of her life.  It is not all work by any means, it is fun and good times half the time.  With best wishes to you and Fred—from Floren.”  The term “little flock” implies more than one child so with this information it is possible to estimate the date of this card to about 1913 to the early 1920s.  That coincides with a period of extreme interest and fascination with Egyptian archeology and the discovery of the tomb of King Tut by Howard Carter in 1922.  The late 1800s and early 1900s was also a time when there were many single women that traveled to exotic places some of whom wrote about their experiences.  Did the writer of this postcard work on an archeological dig or was she an intrepid lady traveler?

Lizzie, Mrs. Fred Graham, ca 1912
[photo:  Ancestry. com]

It was doubly fun to find a photograph on of Lizzie, Mrs. Fred Graham.  I think she looks a bit like the kind of woman who might have a friend or sister as an archeologist or intrepid lady adventurer such as Amelia Peabody the fictional creation of Elizabeth Peters.  If Floren or Florence had included her surname on the card we might have been able to find a photo of her as well.  But for now, she remains a mystery as the does the unanswered question of how this card ended up in an antique shop in Seattle, Washington 100 years after it was sent to Hepburn, Iowa.

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