The first person to call me an “old soul” was my 7th grade math teacher, and to this day, he ranks as one of my top five favorite instructors. When I heard him say those words, I did not think much about it. Yes, I liked listening to old swing music, watching classics like Meet Me in St. Louis and playing bluegrass, but those were just some of my interests. They still are! It was not until high school that I realized being an old soul meant having a slightly more unique outlook on life.
While my best friends were reading about the new Apple update, I was immersed in the life of Elizabeth Bennett. While they were hitting the treadmill, I was taking a nature hike. While they were shopping for a summer wardrobe, I was hitting up antique stores. Antiques have always been a part of my life. I grew up with a house full of dishes, portraits and other artifacts from the past. I believe that is why I have great respect for history – it was instilled in me at such a young age. Today, I collect as my family before me, and my hobby rests in collecting postcards.
Postcards became popular in the early 1900s. They were designed to send quick and easy messages. Almost every postcard has two inscriptions; a general greeting on the front and a personal inscription on the back. Every time you hold a postcard in your hands, you are holding a piece of someone’s life. Important activities, party invitations and love notes are forever preserved on a single piece of paper.
That is why I immediately read through postcards when I see them scattered about at various stores. If there is 150 cards, you bet your bottom dollar I will read through every single one no matter how much time it takes. A little time and perseverance is rewarded greatly. For example, while visiting the Antiques Trading Post in Amish Country, I spent over an hour looking through birthday, Christmas and Easter postcards alike. In the very last aisle I found a series of messages between a WWI private, Granville Baker, and his wife, Alice. Their conversations go something like this:
My dear little Wiffey,
I wish I could be with you tonight. I feel so lonesome for you. My cold is just about over. I got some good medicine from a fellow on the train. I dream about seeing your beautiful face as I walk through the front door. Until then, I await your next letter.
Many glamorize the adventures and whirlwind romances that took place during the Great War. In reality, the men and women who served in WWI endured some of the most brutal warfare. New technology like poisonous gas and tanks made combat unpredictable, and sometimes dead bodies and nearby latrines overflowed into the Western Front trenches where underfed soldiers were tormented with lice. Yet, I still find it in myself to fantasize about the seemingly easy life back then. I imagine Alice with her long blonde hair twisted into a neat bun sitting down at her cherry desk to write words of encouragement to her handsome Bill.
Now, do I know for certain that Alice had shiny blonde hair? No, but that is the great thing about preserving the past – you can give it new life. The next time you are in a shop and spot an old postcard, I encourage you to pick it up! It was written with the intent that someone like you would read it.