Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Postcard Revolution!

Send 2 postcards this week to 2 people who matter to you.

Like so many conversations of merit (and not) these days, it started on facebook.

I posted a link, casually, throwing it out there like so many things that interest me, but with no idea what to do with it other than say, here, look at this shit I find interesting (because that's pretty much how facebook works).  Who knows, I thought, maybe you'll find this same shit interesting, in passing if nothing else.  Here, the particular shit of interest:

The Lost Art of Postcard Writing
(Note: The postcard used for this story is a 1909 beaut from my very own Orange Co., California.)

The author, Charles Simic, writes:

Here it is already August and I have received only one postcard this summer. It was sent to me by a European friend who was traveling in Mongolia (as far as I could deduce from the postage stamp) and who simply sent me his greetings and signed his name...Until a few years ago, hardly a day would go by in the summer without the mailman bringing a postcard from a vacationing friend or acquaintance. Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph, or, if your grandchildren are the ones doing the traveling, a brief message telling you that their flight has been delayed or that they have arrived.

But this post intrigued Sharon, apparently even more than in passing.  And she had an idea:

I say let's start a revolution - a postcard revolution! Just think, if each of us sent two postcards with the message to send two postcards, well hell, we could not only revive the fine art of writing postcards, we could save the US Postal Service!

Old, young friends and students Sui Fan and Yu Chen--they call me uncle--who came from Beijing to see me in Shanghai; atop the Pearl Tower, we wrote postcards.

Shanghai; Pearl Radio Tower on the left.
Ginny-Beth also chipped in, with two "awesome" postcard stories: 

1. When I went to Europe a couple of summers ago, I decided to get all my favorite people's address (I even put an all-call out on FB) and made labels to take with me. Then instead of buying cheap souvenirs and hauling them around and back, I sent postcards to great acclaim.
2. I have family friends [whose] daughter's class (4th grade) was collecting postcards from different states. Since I travel a bunch, I decided to send her some. Now she's a few years older and I still send them to her when I travel and she loves getting them.
POSTCARDS ARE AMAZING! That's my personal opinion. :)

That's also my personal opinion.  I have been a stalwart postcard collector, defender, sender, and receiver my entire life, starting early when I would get postcards from grandparents from all over the world. I still have every one, and even Omi's collection of pre-WWII German postcards, arranged in a photo album, neat and orderly and giving no indication that soon thereafter just about every building and church in those postcards was to be destroyed.

And lest I need to further prove my postcard writing, receiving, and collection bona fides, Steve also posted: 

In the past 10 years, I have received postcards from exactly one person...Jeff Birkenstein. Sad to say, I have sent none myself. Good post, Jeff. 

Simic again:

Unlike letter writing, there never has been, and there never could be, an anthology of the best of postcard writing, because when people collect postcards, it’s usually for reasons other than their literary qualities.   

So, a revolution it is!

Here's your task, should you choose to accept it:  Send 2 postcards this week to 2 people who matter to you.  You don't need to be on vacation in an exciting place like Shanghai.  You can be in Lacey, WA.  Or Fountain Valley, CA.  Or, Beatty, NV.  They sell postcards in just about every grocery store, believe it or not.

Go.  Send them.  

And if you need a selfish and not a selfless (bringing joy to others) reason, then consider this:  you're bound to come across that postcard again, under a magnet on a fridge in the home to which you sent it.

Good writing to ya...

You can be sure I'll have more posts on postcards.

Looking down from the glass floor in the Pearl Tower.


  1. The postcards keep on rolling in. The latest one is from meine Deutsche Schwester, Maike, sent all the way Bielefeld, Germany.

  2. This came through on my FB feed today, and it made me smile. I can't believe it has been 5 years since we began the Postcard Revolution. It is still going, although not as vigorous as I/we would hope. It also reminded me of my kiddos reaction to the postcard you sent to them. They were, to say the least, excited. We have discussed sending postcards "soon" This will give me the kick in the rear to make soon, really soon!