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This is not just an anthem of the 1970’s, although it was that too. She’s not actually standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, but she is standing by the corner of the house in Winslow, Arizona.

Winslow, Ariz. March 18, 1909

The postcard says:

“Dear Christine: You will recognize the contents of this picture. It is by the corner of the house. I am feeling fine now, am beginning to get out. Papa hurt his hand a month ago but he didn’t pay much attention to it. Tues. night he scarcely slept a bit and has had to lay off yesterday and today I don’t know how much longer. I think there is a sliver of iron in it.”

To:  Miss Christine Wenrich, Haskell Institute, Lawrence Kansas

I am continually surprised by these postcards and every time I look, an entire story, life and adventure fills my mind. I didn’t start this as a project about women, or their lives in times past, but I run into stories about women as often as I’ve run into Clark Gable.

This card is one of the older cards in my growing collection and it is an inexpensive card of the time. This is what’s known as a real photograph postcard. These were less expensive than the beautiful, hand-colored linen postcards. It is a photograph, printed on postcard stock. The subject matter is often a street scene or a person. I think this woman is lovely and she looks happy. I love the dog, the barely visible sheep to her right and what appears to be an outhouse in the background.

As I’ve written these posts, I’ve wanted to find one of these people, and it happened today. I found Christine Wenrich and the story is fascinating. Christine and her mother lived in Kansas, where mom taught school at Haskell Institute. Haskell was an Indian Boarding School, founded in 1888. The school eventually transformed into an Indian Nations College and teaches a diverse student population today. Christine’s mother was a teacher at the school and Christine attended another school near Haskell.

Christine scored 94% average in her classes in 6thgrade, and was top of her class. Her early life is well documented in newspapers. She eventually became a teacher in the same area. She traveled to New Mexico and California. Winslow is on Route 66, which in turn, followed the railroad from the eastern and mid-western US to California. It is logical that she would have passed through Winslow. She was mentioned a number of times on the social pages of several papers in Kansas. Miraculously, I also found a photograph of Christine on a State of Kansas historical website. It is a 6thgrade class photo, in which she looks happy.

I wanted to discover that Rita had the same last name, but no such luck. Unfortunately, Rita was a very common first name in Winslow and surrounding census areas at this time. I hope that Rita is the woman in the postcard. I hope her dog was named Lucky, or Silver, or Fred or a great Navajo or Hopi name. Maybe Rita was a frontier school teacher?

The Eagles made a corner in Winslow famous, the name sung by millions of people for decades. I’d like to imagine that the songwriter saw a woman named Rita or Christine in a flatbed Ford and wrote the lyrics.

The next time I hear Take it Easy, I will think of Rita and Christine, windswept plains, in Arizona and Kansas. What must they have thought about their lives? Mom and daughter and friend, schoolteachers, making new lives in frontier towns. I will also think of their road trips across America. I pause here and ponder –these women traveled – not once in their lives – but more than that. And meanwhile, back in their respective small towns, I wonder about what hardships, joys and lives they led.

Until the next love letter…

Sherry

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