Thursday, April 24, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 139

RoozenGaarde tulip fields, Skagit Valley, Washington

This is a postcard from RoozenGaarde in Skagit Valley, Washington where the annual Tulip Festival is held.   It is not a vintage card and the visit to see the tulips was recently so, yes, I get postcards old and new wherever and whenever I can. 

Another view of the fields in bright sun

Tulips, tulips, tulips for as far as one can see in all directions, beautiful rainbows of color especially on a sunny day such as this.  I had never been to the tulip festival in Skagit Valley before so we planned a weekday, weather permitting, when we would have fewer crowds to contend with and more time to leisurely walk through the gardens.  Silly us.  Even though it was a weekday it was quite crowded but according to other people waiting in the entrance line it was not as crowded as the weekend had been.   The growing conditions in Skagit Valley are similar to those in Holland therefore we get incredible blooms here and also bulbs are produced that grow very well in Western Washington.  The flowers are not limited to tulips but also include daffodils, narcissus, iris, hyacinths, and a few other bulb flowers. 

More than one farm or nursery is open for visitors at this time of year but the first one we came to was RoozenGaarde and it is the largest one.  Our plan to visit two or more was scrapped when we realized the size and scope of RoozenGaarde.  Walking around the giant fields first to look at the rainbows of flowers then crossing the street to take in the formal gardens was a day’s worth of viewing as it turned out. 

Dutch windmill in the formal garden area

Here is just a little history and then some flower photos to enjoy.  William Roozen was a Dutch immigrant who arrived in 1947 and by the 1950s had purchased his own farm of about 5 acres.  Since then it has kept expanding until today the Roozen farm covers over 1,000 acres and is the largest tulip bulb producing company in the country and one of the largest employers in the valley.  A few years after he got the original farm he purchased the Washington Bulb Company that now farms 2,000 acres.  In the 1980s Roozen passed the management of the company to his five sons and daughter.  It is still a family owned business today.  The elaborate displays in the formal gardens are redesigned each year with approximately a quarter million spring bulbs and provide brilliant colorful beds of mixed flowers.  An official sponsor of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, RoozenGaarde draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.  There is a $5.00 admission charge but children under 10 can enter free.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter! Postcard bonus

Easter postcard, ca 1910


Happy Easter!  I found this vintage card while looking for something else.  Since today is Good Friday it seemed like it should be shared this week rather than waiting.  The picture shows eggs decorated with pink bows and made to look like flowers with pussy willows and catkins.  Little white bells are blooming on the ground below the eggs.

This holiday card was published by the International Art Publishing Co. of New York and Berlin.  It was printed in Germany, has a divided back, and a one-cent stamp but unfortunately the cancellation date is not legible.  The print date can be partially estimated since the company was established in 1895 by Wolf & Co. and the Art Lithographic Publishing Co. as a subsidiary to produce holiday and souvenir cards.   According to information found on the web site  the International Art Publishing Co. was making cards between 1895 and 1914.  Goodwin Lee who sent the card to his uncle, I.C. Lee, was born in 1899.  If he was 10 or 12 years old that would date the card to between 1909 and 1911.  

This second postcard below shows Goodwin and his uncle, I.C. sitting together.  The message is written in pencil and says “Hello Pete,* Here is this of me and Goodwin.  Don’t we look serious?  Best regards from both of us—just look at me.  Ingvald”  I.C.’s brother, A.C., passed away in June 1909 and I think this photograph was taken when I.C. went to the funeral.  Goodwin would have been 10 years old.

 Goodwin Lee & I.C. Lee, 26 June 1909



*  Pete refers to I.C.'s wife, Petra Landaas Lee

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 138

Castle in the Hills, near Newcastle, Ohio

Eli Nichols built the house shown on this week’s postcard in the 1840s.  The secluded stone house in the Buckeye forest was used as an Underground Railroad station for escaping slaves before the Civil War.  Nichols, who was born in Virginia and moved to Ohio with his family when he was a child, was raised as a Quaker but as an adult left the Society of Friends and became interested in spiritualism.  He was an eminent attorney, politician, legislator and an abolitionist who helped many escaping slaves to make their way across Ohio toward Canada in the years before the Civil War.

The Underground Railroad was not a railroad in the usual sense but a series of foot routes where escaping slaves could find safe houses or safe places to hide as they continued traveling north.  People who helped in this effort used railroad terminology as codes.  A shepherd or agent would help slaves find the railroad, guides were known as conductors, hiding places were stations.  The slaves were known as passengers or cargo.  Ohio had numerous routes as seen on the map below from Wikipedia.  Most of the slaves that Nichols helped came from eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. 

There is folklore associated with the Underground Railroad including stories about quilts hung on fences or clothes lines pointing the way to sanctuaries.  One book I read several years ago describes a particular patchwork quilt pattern called the Log Cabin that had black central squares and was used as a sign to escapees that this was a safe route or a safe place to stop.  Another quilt theory points to ten different patterns with one quilt at a time placed on a fence as a way of non-verbal communication or alerts to runaways.  The code was supposed to have had two meanings, one to signal runaway slaves to prepare to flee, the second to give clues and directions for the journey.  Both quilt historians and scholars of pre-Civil War America, however, have disputed these theories, so there is currently no evidence to substantiate this folklore. 

Music or songs such as spirituals like “Steal Away” and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” were once thought to contain coded messages to assist individuals using the railroad.  The Drinking Gourd had reference to the North Star and Big Dipper.  Scholars who point out that slaves songs certainly expressed hope but did not contain literal help for runaways disbelieve this popular folklore.  One song, however, written in 1860 to the tune of “Oh, Susanna” and called “Song of the Free” is about a man fleeing slavery in Tennessee has stanzas that end with references to Canada.  Canada had abolished slavery in 1834 and was the destination of most escapees.

Trivia:  in some cases the Underground Railroad operated in reverse as fugitives returned to the United States from Canada
following the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing slavery by Congress in 1865.
D, F. Anguish Enterprises, Dresden, Ohio published the postcard and Dexter Press, Inc. of  West Nyack, New York printed the cards.  It has a divided back with an information blurb at the top of the message side and an identifying number at the lower left corner:  47823-B.  The information provided on the card says that Fulton Van Voorhis owned the estate at the time the card was published.  Van Voorhis and his heirs owned it from 1921 to 1969.  It is not a Linen card but appears to be from about 1940; however, it is difficult to date it since it unused and does not have a cancellation mark that might have helped.  It almost looks as if the picture may have been a black & white photograph that has been tinted then reproduced as a color card.

For more information about Eli Nichols and the Underground Railway, see

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls

Even though we have taken a few hikes since January most of the outdoor activities have been skiing instead of hiking until now.  This week we went to Wallace Falls State Park near Gold Bar, Washington.  Bob classifies this as an “easy” hike but the signs and the books say “moderate” difficulty.  The round trip was about 5.2 miles with approximately 800 feet elevation gain.   We saw the Small Falls, the Lower Falls, and the Middle Falls, but did not climb up to the top of the Upper Falls.  The long waterfall cascades down in three sections with the upper falls dropping about 265 feet and can be seen from the valley below. 

Small Falls

 Lower Falls

View from Middle Falls

It would have been another climb of 500 feet up and about ¼ mile distance to reach the top.  Then we would have been looking down on the falls although Bob told me that there is still another set of waterfalls up higher that cannot be seen until one gets to the Upper Falls.  As it turns out most people stop at the Middle Falls viewing area with only a few going all the rest of the way up to the Upper Falls.  There are viewing platforms along the trail and our original destination for the day was the picnic shelter at Lower Falls but it was a beautiful day and I was willing to try more so we were able to get to the Middle Falls.  The sound of the rushing water is loud and pleasant; every so often a light mist of spray wafts upward.  It makes the long falls quite pretty to look at with the clouds of mist.

 The trees were moss covered

Someone had built this small cairn along side the trail

 This odd looking tree growing out of another tree caught our eyes

There were a few wooden bridges crossing the river

 The river as seen from the bridge

One of several viewing platforms along the way

The three trail systems that wind through the forest are the Woody Trail, the old railroad grade, and the Greg Ball trail.  We went up the Woody Trail and returned via the old railroad grade trail, which was longer but less steep.  The railroad bed is open to mountain bikes but we only saw 3 bikers and one skateboarder.  

The trails are popular and there were lots of people due to the lovely weather and some schools being out for Spring Break.  There were families with small children, lots of people with dogs, and lots of teens and what looked like college students too. 

Black tailed deer on the Railroad Grade

Some wildflowers were just beginning to put forth buds and blooms.  As per usual we stopped frequently to take photos and rest so it took us longer than most to make the round trip.  We did see two black tailed deer and a few birds. 

 Skunk Cabbage

 Salmon Berry

 Yellow Wood or Stream Violets


Wild Strawberry

Thursday, April 10, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 137

 "Wadsworth House" the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Portland, Maine, ca 1908


While we were visiting Marietta, Ohio recently we went into the Antique Mall on Butler Street to look for old postcards.  They had boxes and boxes of cards and we spent quite a bit of time looking through them.  Initially it was the subject matter, Longfellow’s home in Portland, Maine, that attracted me to this card then I noticed that the person who purchased the card new had written notes on it about Longfellow and his home and had not mailed the card, more than likely keeping it as a souvenir of a visit to the house; therefore, I am including both sides of the card.

Chisholm Bros. of Portland, Maine published the card probably around 1908 as it has a divided back but the older style of writing identifying it as a postcard.   Two other cards of the house that I have seen have the cameo portrait of Longfellow on the left side of the card and include more of the houses on either side.  This particular card with the cameo on the right seems to have been a less popular version but is basically the same scene. 

Many years ago I worked for the Longfellow scholar, Andrew R. Hilen, Jr., when he was editing the first volumes of his six volume set of the collection of correspondence written by Longfellow.  Longfellow wrote over 1200 letters of which 805 still existed at the time Hilen was compiling them.  Longfellow began his correspondence when he was seven and although he found letter writing to be tedious he continued writing letters all through his life. 

Handwritten on the card above is the following information--“Longfellow’s childhood home “Wadsworth House” tho he was born in the Stephenson house on Fore St.  Longfellow’s mother (a Wadsworth) inherited this property.  Here his parents lived, tho they spent the winter of 1806-07 with Mrs. Stephenson whose husband was absent on a voyage to the West Indies.  From this Fore St. house where the baby H.W.L. was born -–he was taken home a few months later—to this house [on the postcard].  In this house are Longfellow’s cradle and a little old trunk—so quaint—which he took with him on his first trip to Europe in 1826.  Also the desk on which most of his poems were written.”  [Mrs. Stephenson was Longfellow’s aunt, his father’s sister.]

The Stephenson home where Longfellow was born was demolished in 1956 but the house shown on the postcard where he lived for 35 years was designated a historical landmark in 1962 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.  The Maine Historical Society opened the house to the public around 1902 and operates it as a museum with tours from May to October.  The house has many of the original furnishings and has been extensively restored to look as it did when the family lived here.   The Maine Historical Society has a wonderful website with photos of the house and furnishing, please see:

The Wadsworth-Longfellow house was designed and built in 1785-86 by Longfellow’s maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, who had been a Revolutionary War General.  Peleg and his wife, Elizabeth Bartlett Wadsworth, lived with their 10 children in this house before retiring to a farm in Hiram, Maine in 1807.  The marriage of Peleg's daughter, Zilpah, to Stephen Longfellow IV, a lawyer, took place in the house in 1804.   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the second of eight children born to the couple.  He was named after his mother’s brother, a Navy lieutenant, who had died in the Battle of Tripoli.   Stephen and Zilpah added the third story to the house in 1815.  Today the house is situated in the heart of downtown Portland, Maine and is the only single-family dwelling to survive the change from a residential to a business district.  It is constructed of red brick and is the oldest standing structure in the Portland area.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in 1807 and died in 1882.  He was married twice.  First to Mary Potter who died at age 22 following a miscarriage in 1835.  Second to Frances “Fanny” Appleton who died in 1861 from burns sustained after her dress caught on fire.  He was the father of six children, Charles Appleton Longfellow, Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow, Fanny Longfellow, Alice Mary Longfellow, Edith Longfellow, and Anne Allegra Longfellow.  Anne lived in the house until she died in 1901. 

Henry’s mother enrolled him in a Dame School, a private school for very young children somewhat like a pre-school or daycare today, that was usually held in the teacher’s home, when he was 3 years of age.  By age 6 he was attending the private Portland Academy where he gained a reputation as being studious and proficient in Latin.  His mother encouraged his literary interests introducing him to many books.  He printed his first poem called “The Battle of Lovell’s Pond” in the Portland Gazette in 1820 when he was 13 years old.  At 15 he was enrolled in Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with his older brother, Stephen.  While there he met Nathaniel Hawthorne, another American writer, with whom he became lifelong friends. 

Longfellow left the United States in 1826 to travel in Europe, then returned home to teach first at Bowdoin College later at Harvard, translate and write, eventually giving up teaching to write full-time.  His works include long poems such as “The Ride of Paul Revere,” “The Song of Hiawatha,”  “Evangeline,” “The Village Blacksmith,” “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” as well as collections of shorter poems like “Voices of the Night,” and “Ballads and Other Poems.”  His works were very popular among readers but panned by some other writers and critics of the time like Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, and Lewis Mumford who thought his works artificial and imitative of European forms. 

Very few portraits of Longfellow show him as a beardless younger man most show him older with white hair and a full beard.  He did not grow his beard until after his beloved wife Fanny died.  He had tried to put out the fire that caused her death suffering burns to his own face in the attempt hence the beard that seems so familiar to us today was a cover-up of the scars.  He never got over the loss of Fanny and suffered bouts of depression until the time of his own death 21 years later.  He is buried with both of his wives in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  At his funeral his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson called him a “sweet and beautiful soul.” 

In 1884, just two years after his death, Longfellow became the only non-British writer to have a commemorative bust sculpted and placed in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey in London.  Two United States postage stamps have been issued with his likeness, one in 1940 and the second in 2007.  Longfellow’s popularity waned following his death as poets like Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Edwin Arlington Robinson began to be appreciated. 

For additional information about the house and the life of Longfellow, see:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 136

Picketed Point Stockade, Marietta, Ohio, ca 1791

The postcard above shows another of the forts built in the Marietta, Ohio area by the Ohio Company of Associates as protection for settlers during the Indian Wars of 1791-1795.   The image on this card is one of a series published by David Shelburne-Shelburne Films from an award-winning documentary entitled “Opening the Door West.”  The red building in the forefront of the picture is the “red house tavern” also known as the “Buell and Munsell Hotel.”  Built in 1789 by Joseph Buell and Levi Munsell it was the first frame building in the Northwest Territory. 

Although the fort no longer exists there is a stone marker where it originally stood.  Picketed Point was the last of the fortifications built at Marietta.  It encompassed a space of about four acres with blockhouses and sentry boxes.   The card shows dwelling houses inside the fenced area.  Military quarters were also located within the fort.  The entry gates were wide enough to admit teams such as mules, horses and oxen.  The gates were constructed of thick planks sturdy enough to afford protection for the men on guard.  Like the other forts it also had pickets and palisades as additional protection.

Stone marking the southern boundary of Picketed Point

Note the white barked tree at the front left of the card.  We saw several of these trees on our recent visit to Marietta and did not know what they were.  The lower trunk is a normal brown color while the upper trunk and branches are white or silver colored.  Without leaves it was difficult to guess what these striking trees might be.  We asked at the Campus Martius Museum and found out that they are Silver Maples, a tree that is fast growing and is often found along waterways and wetlands so it is sometimes also called a “water maple.”  It is not found in the northwestern United States but is one of the most common trees in the eastern United States and Canada.

Silver Maple

The magnificent specimen shown above is located in the parkway off Front Street along the Muskingum River in Marietta.  We also saw several of these trees growing along the bank by the Harmar footbridge as well as here and there throughout Marietta.  The original forest surrounding Picketed Point was composed of hardwood trees such as oak, elm, hickory, beech and maple that still grow there although not as abundantly as they did in the 1700s due to early logging and construction.  Most of the evergreen trees we saw were pines and may have been planted by the inhabitants sometime later.  Ohio Buckeye trees can be found almost everywhere also.  They produce a fruit similar to a chestnut in appearance.  The inner nut is said to resemble the eye of a buck, hence the name.  The nuts and shell casings can be found in great numbers on the ground as these native trees were very popular and have been planted along the streets.   Supposedly the first tree felled in the Northwest Territory was a Buckeye. 

For additional information, please see

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blossoms and the Japanese Garden

Cherry blossoms on University of Washington campus

 Magnolia blossoms, University of Washington campus

 Spring is in the air; flowering cherry trees and magnolias are in full bloom in many places throughout the city especially on the University of Washington campus where we joined other people taking photos of the trees in the Quad. 

This week we had a day that was dry and sunny after weeks of rain.  We skied in the morning and stopped at the Arboretum on the way home to visit the Japanese Garden.  Not all the magnolias or cherry trees were in bloom in the garden but there were a few things budding and opening up.  The gardens are lovely and peaceful.  We will probably return in a couple of weeks to see what other plants have started to bloom.

The Japanese Garden is located in part of the Washington Park Arboretum.  The park was originally established in 1904.  Through the years it has evolved into a botanical garden and arboretum associated with both the city and the University.   The Seattle Garden Club raised funds to hire the nation’s foremost landscape architecture firm of the time, the Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts, to design the Arboretum.  The small booklet we picked up from the information window at the garden entrance gives a brief history.  Among other things it explains that as early as 1937 there were plans for a Japanese Garden to be part of the park.  But it was not possible until a sizable gift was received in 1959 that allowed the Garden to be built.  Thousands of plants were selected and have been carefully nurtured and pruned to creature a truly spectacular Garden.  The original teahouse was a gift from the people of Tokyo.  Fire destroyed the teahouse in 1973 and it was 1981 before it was rebuilt with help from the Urasenke Foundation of Kyoto, Japan. 

A small admission charge helps to support and maintain the garden.  Additional support comes from a 2007 voter approved Pro Parks Levy, the Garden Club and the non-profit Japanese Garden Advisory Council.  There was a packet of postcards available so, yes, I did get them and will share in the future.  In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from our visit to the garden.  

 Japanese Maple

Rhododendron buds


 Stone bridge over Koi pond

Stream flowing through park

White & pink rhododendrons (above & below)

Carefully tended willow tree

A butterfly lit on these blossoms

 On of several bridges

Stone walkway

Looking across the Koi pond

Cherry blossoms

Tea house


Entry gate house

For more information, please see: