Thursday, July 11, 2013

Postcards passé?

Several years ago there was a song “Video Killed the Radio Star”. This song is echoing in my mind as I go about some preparations for a conference. And organizer politely asked if we could each bring post cards to represent where we are from. What a great idea! Of course I agree to grab one. Then I begin the process of thinking of where to point my vehicle to find one. Okay, so I used a little modern technology to help. I called a local grocery store:
Me: “Excuse me, do you sell postcards?”
Store Employee: “Do we sell what?”
Me: “Postcards. You know like for travel with pictures on them of places.”
Store Employee: “Oh, no. We don't sell postcards.”

Hmm where else to try. I emailed a local historical landmark. There they were very helpful. Although they don't have current postcards they were willing to loan me a vintage postcard if I returned it. I thanked them kindly for the generous offer. That would have been a huge help. Glad I found another alternative as I'm not sure I want the responsibility of caring for a vintage postcard that needs to be returned after 150 educators or so examine it. But I was indeed grateful for their kindness.

I had called a local bookstore. Remember those things. You know, an organized set of store shelves where you can buy (I know get this!) a book. Those hard bound or soft bound items of yesteryear that have words with meaning between the covers. This lovely local establishment carried postcards. The small businesses of America deserve our patronage. So here is their website: They were very sweet postcards for the next town over. As I was running out of options, I took them.

On the same street is a stationary store. I figured they were worth a shot. To my surprise they had a sundry of postcards. Those from my state and those for 5 or six of the towns in the local area. I snapped up a few as representation of the area. I now have postcards to bring to share. Yay!

But as I look at my newly acquired collection I was struck with the thought: Why, were these so hard to find. Has digital media killed the postcard industry?! As I purchased the first set at Anderson's, I commented to the shopkeeper. “I guess e-cards have sort of ended the use of postcards.” His response was “And mobile phones, you take a picture of where you are and send it to those you want to share it with instantly.” An excellent point! The handwritten note is becoming less and less utilized. It seems to me perhaps postcards on the decline now too.

Not too long ago, our town was captured in a project and book that is a collection of beautiful images from the town, When I look at these amazing images that were collected, I have to wonder why this image is the one I was able to purchase. I am grateful to have a postcard to bring. But, is this the representation of where I am from that I wish to present. Our city has indeed become more of a city lately. But couldn't that have been captured with beauty? If you consider all the amazing images that appear in postcards of New York City, this is the representation of our town. I think I know the next project for school. Have students design postcards for our town. We are celebrating a milestone year of existence as an official town after-all. I think this might just be a great way for our students to participate.