When I was a kid, I used to love postcards. I’d ask anyone who was going away to either send me one or bring one home. Then I used to send them home myself when travelling. While today there are plenty of places that sell them, I wonder, does anyone send postcards anymore?
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Blast from the past
Recently as I was going through our stuff, I discovered an album full of old postcards. Many were from people I’ve lost contact with, others from friends I haven’t seen in a while. Some were from family, others I sent myself.
It was as if a wave of years gone by suddenly rose from those old cards and smacked me right in the face. I felt part nostalgic and part excited as I read them. Talk about a walk down memory lane. Some memories were good; some made me sad for various reasons. However, they all reminded me why I collected them in the first place.
Before there was social media, it was harder to get an idea of what places looked like. The Internet didn’t have as much information and it was limited in quality. Postcards were a way to see a place and a great memory of travel. Let’s be honest, a postcard guaranteed a nice shot of that vacation spot in case the photo didn’t come out. What a sad life it was before digital cameras.
I used to buy postcards from the places I’ve visited. Sometimes I didn’t get a chance to see certain things or wasn’t there at the right time. Getting a professionally done photo on a card guaranteed that a memory of that place stayed with me. There were times when it was hard to choose just one!
Discover new places
I’ll admit I loved buying postcards. Yet, when I got ones from places I haven’t been to, it was even more exciting. Sometimes they were from places I’ve never seen. Other times, they were from places I’ve wanted to visit.
Letters, in all their glory, provided an outlet for more descriptive experience. But, it was the postcard, with its limited space, that forced the sender to be creative. The snippets, scribbled in haste and often revealed the moment in which they were written.
Personality in postcards
I truly believe that the content on the front of the card can say a lot about you and/or the sender. There are funny cards – either with a local joke or one related to the location. Then there also ones of the iconic sites, alone and in a collage. Some people like local stuff like art, crafts, etc. While some of my favourites include panorama or aerial shots. I wouldn’t be able to take that myself. At least in the pre-drone days.
The type of a card you select also said something about you. I always wanted the recipient to get a taste of where I was. It was something I wanted in cards, so figured it worked for them too. Some people came up with great choices while others seemed boring and plain. That was the downsides of sending multiple cards.
Singles and sets
As I’m writing this, I am amazed at how varied the cards I have really are. I usually bought one or two postcards while travelling, but I do have a couple of sets that stand out. Looking at them, I’ve realized that the cards in sets weren’t always as good as the singles. It was almost as if they took the uglier cards and bunched them together with a nice one.
For those that collected them, it was a better deal to get a set instead of buying individual ones. I’m sure that I wouldn’t waste my time on less than great postcards ever again. Then again, I haven’t bought one in years.
Then vs now
I used to collect cards to remember places and to give me inspiration. Each new arrival brought a certain amount of wistfulness and longing to visit there. For the places I have visited, sending a postcard home allowed me to share my experience with friends and family back home. It was also a great way to keep those memories going when I got home.
Looking through the cards made me happy to realize I’ve visited many of the places I longed for. People who went there before me inspired me and gave me a visual of what to expect. Then there are the unsigned postcards from places I’ve yet to visit. I honestly have no idea how I got them, but they intrigue me. I kept them for a reason and someone must have got them for me, so that’s something.
So does anyone send postcards anymore?
When I think about it, they sell postcards everywhere. Do people actually buy them? I would assume that if they sell them, someone must buy them. But, does anyone send postcards anymore? Do people buy them as keepsakes? Do they send them back home to loved ones? I think I will need to investigate this next time I’m in a touristy are.
I haven’t thought of buying postcards in ages. After all, that is what social media is all about. I take many photos so the idea of buying a postcard is just unfathomable. Or is it? Looking through my old postcards, I thought about the places I have been to in the last few years. I might have enjoyed sending myself a memory written on a card.
Old is new again
As everything else, are postcards making a comeback? While I don’t see as many places selling them anymore, there are plenty of people who love postcards.
Based on the comments on Twitter, it seems that a lot of people are very much committed to postcards! Some send them to relatives (grandparents, parents, children, etc.) while others send them to themselves. There are even those that make their own!
I’ve gone through my collection and decided to chuck a lot of them. The ones I don’t like and ones that bring on bad memories. I think it’s about time I make new ones. I might even start sending cards home when I travel. There is something exciting about it.
How about you? Are you a postcard aficionado or is that a foreign concept to you? Let me know!