This poetic Valentine’s Day card was postmarked Perry Ill., 4 p.m., Feb. 13, 1911. The man who mailed it could expect that his beloved, “Birdie,” would have it in her hand the very next day—Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. In those days, first-class mail was delivered morning and afternoon and postcards required only a one-cent postage stamp. Note also that in this case the card was mailed and delivered sans street name or number. Small town—everyone knows everyone else—therefore, no street address required. What ever happened to that wonderful postal system? Well, for one thing, Time happened.
The Physics of Pumpkins
By Florence Newman
Copyright © 2016, Florence Newman
Click image to enlarge. These four cartoon characters, among others, were created to represent actual people who were somehow involved in the battle to defend Fort McHenry from the British on September 12-14, 1814. Three years ago, the images were published in a Jr. Rangers booklet at the fort. This composite image is now available for printing on mugs, t-shirts, and various other products at: zazzle.com.
By Florence Newman
All year we’ve banked the embers of our rage
and gathered brittle bitterness and grief,
stacked cords of hardened sorrows high to feed
the bonfire built against the darkening days.
Tonight a fiery feast at last repays
our abstinence; upon the pyre we heave
our heartache, the sacrifice we bleed,
bottomless libation, offering to the blaze.
Cast in the broken hopes, the stifled sighs,
recriminations, doubts, defeat, despair,
the fruit of many seasons, grimly grown.
Fill up the void with self-deceit and lies,
with unshed tears, unspoken pain and care,
and beat the drum until the very depths resound.
Copyright © 2015 Florence Newman.
When my bother, Vernon Leroy (Lee) Sizemore, retired from the military, he earned his living as a sign painter, a skill he had picked up in vocational high school and sharpened by—among other things—painting pin-up girls and fancy lettering on the noses of airplanes. In the years before his death, he was doing broadsheet window signs for grocery stores and night clubs. Some of his expert brush lettering signs were finished with glued-on glitter, especially those promoting bands and singers. Near the end of his life, he fell off a ladder while hanging an exterior sign and wound up with a severe right-side head injury. He was in a coma for months. Once he woke up, I visited him several times in Denver. He always had something interesting to say, riffs that would start O.K., then wander off into fantasy, not making much sense—but to my ears they were weird poetry. And when he drew Picasso-like portraits of people, me included, he always left the right side of the head blank. When I asked why, he said because that was the way they were.
Lee was a wonderful older brother. Because of all the good things he taught me during trips to museums and theaters, letting me tag along when he shined shoes in South Baltimore bars, and schooling me in basic sign layout theory, I’ve dedicated this post to him.
A collection of photographs like the ones above, on a wide range of subjects, are in the archives of FSA/OWI (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information). These rich color images, taken within three years of the invention of Kodachrome, serve to inspire as much as to document. To see more of them on this site, type “WPA color” into the small search window in the sidebar on the right of this page. For the complete collection, visit the WPA site by tapping the link in the sidebar box marked “Photography.”
(An itch for scribbling.)