To Love Letter Readers,
Sherry Dewane here – finally, writing again. Today’s post made a trip from Holbrook, Arizona, to South Pasadena, California. My friend, Bianca, who currently lives in South Pasadena gave me this card. I don’t know and haven’t asked, but I suspect she found it somewhere in the area, since it was mailed to an unknown person in South Pasadena in 1919.
The post mark is not discernable, but we know it was mailed in 1919, because postage for a postcard was 1 cent in 1872 and again in 1919. The kids’ clothes look more 1919 to me. The Holbrook Drug Company did not exist in 1872, so I am proceeding with 1919.
From the writer:
“Saturday, June 5, Holbrook
“Dear Edwin, We just went through petrified Forest (sic). Had a swell time at Oil wells. Around oil wells found a petrified biscuit thrown away by Indian Chief just married to a rotten cook. Love Howard.”
I don’t even know what to say about the petrified biscuit, nor the marriage possibly destined for strife or starvation…
The post card was sent simply to 1104 Hope St. So. Pasadena, California. This is in an area of South Pasadena I drive through with some frequency. And there are all the little connections through time and place.
The postcard itself is a scene from the Petrified Forest, which is on the Navajo Reservation, and iconic Route 66. The Petrified Forest is named for the petrified trees, that lived about 225 million years ago. Think dinosaurs and swamps. The trees were tall conifers and came from higher ground miles away. The trees were washed down into the rivers and deposited in what is now the Petrified Forest, where they became fossils. The fossilized wood itself is considered a semi-precious stone. The big “forests” of fossilized trees comes from log jams on those ancient rivers.
Humans have been present in the region for at least 13,000 years. Newspaper Rock is a concentration of pictographs created by ancient Native Americans. The Spanish explored the area beginning in 1540, and left their own engravings on rocks. Lt. Amiel Whipple led an expedition of 100, which included diverse disciplines, including engineering, geology, soldiers and others. I imagine the conversations – what do you think this is? Can it be? Why are these trees stone? What happened? I think about the languages in which this all happened and how words were invented to describe, in human terms an incredible sight.
The postcard was printed for Holbrook Drug Company, which advertised heavily in 1919. The Holbrook Drug Company was featured in the local paper for its enlarged, framed photos of the Petrified Forest, and which “form a very attractive display”. Holbrook Drug Company’s address at this time was simply “The Busy Corner”. Internet sources say Holbrook was known as a “town too rough for women and churches”. There is no attribution for this quote, however, it describes a town on the edge of Indian land, geological wonder, ranching, hunting, warring, fighting and bars. It had a bar named the Bucket of Blood Saloon, named for a particularly bloody gunfight. Enough said.
It continues its diverse and eclectic history as part of Route 66.
Today, the Hashknife Outfit, which has the longest contract with the US Postal Service, rides on horseback from Holbrook, Arizona, to Scottsdale, Arizona, delivering mail. The mail is hand-stamped “via pony express” by the riders. I hope that 100 years from now, someone finds a postcard hand-cancelled and delivered by horseback on the pony express.
Off to more adventure through time and place.